Business news briefs: Average cost of gasoline in Western Pa. rises
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The price of gasoline in Western Pennsylvania crept up 2.3 cents this week, with the average cost for a gallon of regular unleaded hitting $3.767. The average price for a comparable gallon nationwide was $3.756, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge.
The H.J. Heinz Co. reported a profit of $258 million, or 80 cents per share, in the first quarter, up from $226 million, or 70 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier. Earnings from continuing operations were 87 cents per share, exceeding analysts expectations. Total reported sales dropped to $2.79 billion vs. $2.8 billion a year earlier, but unfavorable foreign currency exchange rates played a role in that number. Based just on volume and price, sales were up 4.8 percent, Heinz said in its announcement this morning.
Average home prices in Donegal rose from $60,644 in 2000 to $207,100 in 2011, a 22 percent annual appreciation rate that ranked as the highest in the metropolitan Pittsburgh area, according to South Side real estate information service RealSTATs. In second place, Buffalo saw home prices rise from $109,025 to $321,360 over that same period. Six of the top 10 communities in the rankings were in the city of Pittsburgh, RealSTATs found.
Fifth Third Bank has revamped its consumer accounts in Pittsburgh and other select markets, eliminating free checking for existing customers. The bank had stopped offering free checking to new customers several years ago. Locally, market leader PNC Bank and a number of other major players continue to offer free checking. Fifth Third, based in Cincinnati, has 15 offices and less than 1 percent of deposits in the seven-county Pittsburgh region. It opened its first branch here at the end of 2004.
The number of financial institutions on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s "problem" list fell for the fifth quarter in a row, to 732 in the second quarter, from 772. That was the smallest number of problem banks since the end of 2009. The FDIC does not identify the institutions on the problem list. So far this year, 40 banks have failed, down from 68 failures during the same time last year.
The U.S. economy grew at a tepid 1.7 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter, suggesting growth will stay weak in the second half of the year. Slightly stronger consumer spending and greater exports were the main reasons the Commerce Department reported Wednesday that growth was better than its initial estimate of 1.5 percent. Still, growth has slowed from the 2 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter and the 4.1 percent rate in the fourth quarter of 2011. Economists expect only modest improvement in the second half of the year. Most believe the economy will keep growing, but at a subpar rate of around 2 percent.
First Published August 30, 2012 12:00 am