Small Business Saturday has gained some traction. U.S. consumers who were aware of the promotion spent $5.5 billion with independent merchants on the day after Black Friday last week, according to a survey sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business and American Express. The credit card provider said cardmember transactions at small business stores that day rose 21 percent over last year.
Quaker Steak & Lube has signed an area development franchise agreement with Salt & Pepper Restaurants Inc. for the right to open four new restaurants in the Houston area. The first location is planned for next year. The Sharon-based chain now has its name on almost 60 restaurants in 18 states and Canada.
The Federal Reserve Bank has hired Grant Street Associates of Pittsburgh and CRESCO Real Estate of Cleveland to sell its former branch at 717 Grant St., Downtown. The bank announced last year that it was laying off most of its 320 employees and moving the 25 or so who remained to One Oxford Center. The move was made in October. The seven-story branch was completed in 1931, and a 10-story addition was finished in 1958. The building has about 200,000 square feet of usable space.
The Pittsburgh Regional Business Coalition for Homeland Security will host a meeting with Thomas Minton III, director of the state Office of Homeland Security, on Tuesday. Mr. Minton will discuss disaster preparedness and homeland security topics in relation to the governor's office. For more information and to pre-register for the free event, call 412-818-8722 or email email@example.com.
Family Services of Western Pennsylvania is hosting a free community class on financial wellness in the New Kensington area beginning Dec. 6. The class will run for 11 weeks and cover many financial topics, including banking basics, credit, budgeting and identity theft. The classes will be held Thursdays at Central City Plaza from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be provided as well as all the materials needed for class.
U.S. consumer confidence rose this month to its highest level in almost five years, helped by a better outlook for hiring over the next six months. The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 73.7 in November from 73.1 in October. Both are the best readings since February 2008. The index is still below the level of 90 that is consistent with a healthy economy.
Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller reported Tuesday that its 20-city index of home prices rose 3 percent in September compared with the same month last year. Prices also gained 3.6 percent in the July-September quarter compared with the same quarter in 2011. The index does not include Pittsburgh.
ConAgra Foods is set to become the nation's biggest maker of store-brand foods, with a $5 billion purchase of Ralcorp announced Tuesday. Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra, which makes brands including Banquet, Chef Boyardee and Marie Callender's, made multiple attempts to buy Ralcorp last year. Ralcorp, based in St. Louis, makes products for a wide range of companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and McDonald's Corp. The deal, which was unanimously approved by both companies' boards, is expected to close by March 31. It needs Ralcorp shareholder approval.
Orders for core capital goods, considered a proxy for business investment, rose 1.7 percent in October, the best showing since a 2.3 percent rise in May, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Overall orders for durable goods were unchanged in October at $216.9 billion following a 9.2 percent jump in September that had been driven by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft. In October, demand for machinery, primary metals and communications equipment increased while orders for autos, airplanes and computers fell.
Google is launching a new campaign in Germany to protest against possible copyright restrictions being discussed in the country's Parliament. The campaign started Tuesday seeks to mobilize Google users against plans to introduce a so-called "Google Tax" that would require search engines to pay each time they link to media content like newspaper articles or photographs.