The week that was: To market, to market

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To market, to market ...

Lots of market news this week, and we're not just talking stock markets -- we're talking about the kind where you buy foodstuffs (such as a fat pig). At PPG Place, the new owners of the Downtown office and skyscraper complex are contemplating a makeover that might replace the lower-level food court with a grocery store.

Market to market, II

Meanwhile, over in the Strip District, the popular Pittsburgh Public Market will be moving out of the historic produce terminal (and will get up to $40,000 in grants from the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority in order to make the move). The indoor market, which opened in 2010, accommodates a variety of food purveyors and needs to room to expand, according to the PG's Mark Belko.

Market to market, III

And Teresa F. Lindeman has the story on local grocery price wars -- Giant Eagle's promotion to "lock" prices on certain commonly used items was popular enough among customers to be repeated into spring, according to the supermarket chain. The announcement comes as other retailers, such as Weis Markets and Target, promote their own "price lock" or "price match" campaigns.

Market to market, IV

The market has been kind to Moon engineering firm Michael Baker recently. Last week, after the company announced it had asked its independent directors to study the company's "strategic options" -- an announcement that came a few weeks after a private equity firm offered to buy Michael Baker for $24.25 per share -- share prices increased. On Monday, Baker shares closed at $24.90, up 14 percent since DC Capital made its cash proposal, and on Friday it closed the week at $24.88.

In other market news, ExOne, a North Huntingdon tech and manufacturing company that makes 3-D printers, filed IPO paperwork and plans to raise up to $75 million through a public offering of an undisclosed number of shares.

Market to market, V

Credit market analyst Fitch Ratings downgraded West Penn Allegheny Health System's bond rating Friday to C from CCC. Despite a tentative agreement with bondholders that could prevent an imminent bankruptcy filing, Fitch reduced the grade on $726 million's worth of WPAHS revenue bonds because of West Penn Allegheny's deteriorating financial situation and "the failure of WPAHS and Highmark to complete a proposed merger." The only way the rating could go lower is if WPAHS actually defaulted on its debts when they come due.

Market to market, VI

The housing rental market is strong and steady in Pittsburgh, with prices rising, but renting an apartment is still a bargain here, compared to most large cities. The average renter pays $838 a month in Pittsburgh -- compare that to $2,985 a month in New York, $1,970 in San Francisco and $1,045 in Chicago (and $731 in Cleveland).

Quote of the week

"These are not your grandma's pierogies -- we make no apologies for that."

-- Thomas Guentner, one of the co-proprietors of Peddlin' Pierogies, a new Pittsburgh company that not only makes pierogies but will also deliver them by bicycle as a mobile food vendor.


Bill Toland: or 412-263-2625.


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