Foreclosure activity even since summer, up 47% from last year; Home construction up 11%; Job openings dip
Foreclosures up 47% from last year in region
The level of home foreclosure filings in the Pittsburgh region in the summer quarter barely changed from the spring quarter but was 47 percent higher than summer 2011, said an industry report. RealtyTrac Inc., an Irvine, Calif., firm that tracks real estate foreclosure activity, said lenders made 2,112 filings between July 1 and Oct. 1 in this region. They range from mortgage default notices to bank repossessions, and contrasted with 1,434 fillings in the year-ago period because of a spike in default notices. Year-over-year foreclosure filings jumped 35 percent in Pennsylvania, but fell nearly 13 percent nationally to their lowest since the fall quarter of 2007. But the Pittsburgh region still had a far lower percentage of houses in some stage of foreclosure as of Sept. 30: one in 522, compared with one in 431 for Pennsylvania, and one in 248 nationally.
DEP issues permit for gas-fired power plant in Bradford County
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a permit for a new electric power plant that will be supplied at least partly with locally produced natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. The agency said Wednesday that Moxie Liberty LLC of Vienna, Va. plans to build the plant in Bradford County. The proposed plant could be completed in two or three years and will generate 468 megawatts of electricity. A boom in natural gas production in Pennsylvania has led many utilities to consider shifting away from using coal as the primary fuel.
Hewlett-Packard's reign as top PC maker ends; Lenovo 1st
Hewlett-Packard Co.'s six-year reign as the world's top personal-computer maker was ended by China's Lenovo Group Ltd., highlighting the challenges facing Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman as she strives to revive growth at the 73-year-old technology U.S. company. Lenovo, which made a deeper push into the market by acquiring International Business Machines Corp.'s PC unit seven years ago, accounted for 15.7 percent of global shipments in the third quarter, compared to 15.5 percent for Hewlett-Packard, according to market-research firm Gartner Inc. Hewlett-Packard has held the top spot since 2006.
New home construction up 11%
New residential construction activity in the six-county Pittsburgh area expanded 11 percent in the first nine months from the year earlier, said Tall Timber Group, Ross. The research and consulting firm said builders started 2,396 new dwelling units through September of this year, compared with 2,155 in the same period a year ago. The additional units were fairly evenly split between single-family homes and multi-family dwellings, said the firm. The data covers Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties.
• Costco is drawing more shoppers and signing up more new members, helping the wholesale club operator's fiscal fourth-quarter net income and revenue climb. For the period ended Sept. 2, Costco Wholesale Corp. said it earned $609 million, or $1.39 per share. That compares with $478 million, or $1.08 per share, a year earlier. Revenue increased 14 percent to $32.22 billion.
Other business news
• The Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce announced Chick-fil-A Eastgate Plaza was named the 2012 Business of the Year and the organization's annual business meeting and chamber awards luncheon in Greensburg. K.A.R.A.T. School of Learning received the Non-Profit of the Year award. The Business Person of the Year award went to Angela O'Brien, founder of Angela's Angels and Chick-fil-A Eastgate Plaza's restaurant marketing director. Cathy Baumann, branch manager at Dollar Bank, Westmoreland, received the Chamber Member of the Year award.
• The Downtown law firm of Reed Smith opened an office in Singapore, becoming the firm's fourth location in Asia. The office will have four law partners and several associate attorneys. Singapore is “one of the most important business centers in the world,” said Reed Smith global managing partner Gregory Jordan in a statement. The new office joins Reed Smith offices in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.
• The accounting firm of Horovitz Rudoy & Roteman LLC, Pittsburgh, said it acquired DeJulius & Co. CPAs Inc., Whitehall. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. DeJulius' office, on Clairton Boulevard, will operate as a division of HH&R.
— Staff and wire reports