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Roundup: First Niagara has "minor" issue; Philly sues Yuengling for $6.6M; more

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

First Niagara says online billing issue ‘minor'

A number of First Niagara Bank customers in the Pittsburgh area experienced problems with online bill payment – such as double debits from their accounts for credit-card payments – in recent days. Spokesman Oliver Hays said in an e-mail that the Buffalo-based bank had “a minor issue” with its automated clearinghouse system and that no customers will be charged by the bank as a result. He did not respond to questions about where other markets and how many customers were affected.

Philly sues Yuengling for $6.6M

Philadelphia is seeking $6.6 million in back taxes and fines it alleges it is owned by Pottsville brewing company D. G. Yuengling and Son. The city filed a lawsuit on Jan. 30 in Philadelphia County court alleging the company owes nearly $4 million in back business taxes dating back to 2008 for beer sales in Philadelphia. In addition to back taxes, the lawsuit seeks nearly $2.7 million in penalties and interest. A Yuengling spokesman could not be reached for comment about the lawsuit. D.G. Yuengling and Son in 2011 surpassed Samuel Adams-maker Boston Beer to become the largest American-owned brewery in the country. The most popular mega-beer brands sold in the United States, including Budweiser and Coors, are owned by foreign companies.

Gas prices in region spike 12 cents

Motorists in Western Pennsylvania likely noticed a big spike in gas prices this week, with the average price increasing 12 cents a gallon over last week, AAA East Central said. Higher crude oil prices and problems at some oil refineries were to blame for the rise, the organization said. The average price in Western Pennsylvania on Tuesday was $3.678 a gallon, up from $3.557 a gallon a week ago. The national average jumped even higher, to $3.533 a gallon, up 17 cents over last week's average. Across Western Pennsylvania, prices ranged from a high of $3.779 in Jeannette to a low of $3.581 in Warren.

Virgin confirms takeover talks

Virgin Media Inc. confirmed that it is in talks with Liberty Global Inc. over a possible takeover by the U.S. cable television giant. Liberty Global has pay-TV operations around the world and is the largest cable operator in most of its 11 European markets. Virgin Media, the second biggest pay TV company in the U.K. after BSkyB, did not give any details in a brief statement Tuesday, only saying it would make a further announcement soon. It is the second time that Liberty Global has looked at buying Virgin Media, in which Virgin boss Richard Branson still holds a minority stake. Virgin Media was formed through the merger of NTL, Telewest and Virgin Mobile in 2006 and is listed in New York.

Turbocharger raises questions

Consumer Reports is warning car buyers that turbocharged engines may not deliver the speed or fuel economy they expect. The magazine said Tuesday that its tests showed turbocharged models from Ford, Hyundai and Kia are less efficient than competitors. It also said the turbocharged Chevrolet Cruze got little extra power or fuel economy than a non-turbocharged engine. The magazine praised a turbocharged four-cylinder from BMW. Turbochargers pump extra air into engines so more fuel can be added to boost power. Carmakers charge more for them, promising extra power. Consumer Reports said a new Ford Fusion with an optional 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine was slower and got lower fuel economy than a Toyota Camry, Honda Accord or Nissan Altima with regular engines.


• Eureka Financial Corp., Oakland, reported quarterly net income decreased 14 percent to $333,000, or 25 cents a share, compared with $388,000, or 31 cents a share, the year earlier. Higher noninterest expenses and a higher provision for loan losses offset lower interest expenses. Total assets rose 2.1 percent to $141 million as of Dec. 31. Eureka bank has two branches in the Pittsburgh area.

Other business news

• The typical funded status of a corporate pension in the United States jumped 4.9 percentage points to 81.2 percent in January, which was the highest funded status since last March, said a unit of Bank of New York Mellon Corp. on Tuesday. The value of fund assets increased with recent higher equity market values, and liabilities declined, said BNY Mellon Investment Strategy and Solutions Group.

• Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said it introduced three new products to its high content imaging analysis business, which is based in the Pittsburgh area. The three new solutions are meant to enhance knowledge of cell biology. Overall, Thermo Fisher employs about 1,600 people in the Pittsburgh area, mostly at three locations in Findlay Township.

• US Airways said it served nearly 4.4 million passengers in January, a 2 percent increase over year-ago levels. The airline also said it filled 81.1 percent of its airplane seats, a January record and compared with 78.8 percent the year earlier. The carrier also increased its capacity last month by 1.8 percent.

• Confluence Technologies Inc., North Shore, said it made two key executive promotions. Executive Vice President James “Skip” Smith, was named chief operating officer. Vice president of business development Frederick Winston was named chief financial officer. Confluence provides automated data management solutions to investment fund administrators.

— Staff and wire reports

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