Roundup: Dow has worst week of 2013 ; Judge asked to delay Highmark, UPMC antitrust case; more
Dow has worst week of 2013
Stocks fell Friday, closing out what was the worst week of the year for the Dow Jones industrial average. The market was dragged lower by a weak performance from retailers and companies sensitive to higher interest rates. Homebuilders and banking stocks were among the best performers. Stocks had a decent start in the first half of the week, but investors were hit hard in the last three days. The Dow retreated 2.2 percent for the week, its worst for 2013. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 2.1 percent for the week, its second-worst performance of the year. On Friday, the S&P 500 lost 5.49 points, or 0.33 percent, to 1,655.83. The Dow fell 30.72 points, or 0.2 percent, to 15,081.47 and the Nasdaq composite lost 3.34 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,602.78.
Highmark asks for delay in antitrust case
Highmark Inc. and West Penn Allegheny Health System Inc. asked a federal judge on Friday to put a hold on all the various antitrust lawsuits involving them until the judge sorts out which claims are going to be dismissed. Along with UPMC, they have amassed “tens of millions” of documents that have to be reviewed before handing them over as evidence in the various cases. Before they start a process that “will take many months and cost millions of dollars,” U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti should decide which, if any, claims they need to provide evidence for, the motion says. The lawsuits include West Penn's original claim against UPMC and UPMC's counterclaim that West Penn and Highmark were conspiring to drive it out of business. Another lawsuit on behalf of premium payers claim that Highmark and UPMC conspired to keep competing insurers and health providers out of Western Pennsylvania, allowing Highmark to charge higher premiums. In all, the cases involve the three health industry companies plus about 40 other companies in Pennsylvania and four other states that have been subpoenaed for records and testimony, the motion says.
ITC to continue steel tubing dumping probe
A government investigation will continue over steel industry complaints that nine nations are dumping oil and natural gas tubing products in the United States at below cost. The International Trade Commission voted unanimously on Friday that there is a reasonable indication the steel industry has been injured by imports from India, Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam. Nine steel producers including U.S. Steel Corp. filed the trade case with regulators on July 2. The case will be the largest and most important in steel industry history, analysts said. The industry said imports have surged 111 percent in recent years from those countries, causing “material injury” to domestic producers of so-called oil country tubular goods. The Department of Commerce will continue an investigation, with a preliminary penalty decision due on Sept. 25.
Highmark to expand Community Blue plan
Highmark Inc., Pennsylvania's largest health insurer, said it will expand a recently introduced tiered-benefit plan to 21 counties in central and eastern Pennsylvania on Jan. 1. The Community Blue Premier Flex plan aims to lower premiums by prodding members to choose less expensive doctors and health care providers. The plan is tiered in that members' out-of-pocket costs vary depending on the hospitals and doctors they select. That means members who choose higher-cost health care providers bear a greater portion of the cost than do those who choose lower-cost providers. Highmark began offering the plan July 1 in nine counties in the north-central part of the state. The insurer has no plans to introduce the Community Blue Premier Flex plan to Western Pennsylvania, Highmark spokeswoman Kristin Ash said.
SEC approves $8 billion sale of NYSE parent to IntercontinentalExchange
Federal regulators have approved the proposed $8 billion sale of the venerable New York Stock Exchange to a much younger futures exchange. The deal is a symbol of how financial markets are being increasingly reshaped by high technology. The Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed Friday that it's authorized the takeover of the two-centuries-old NYSE's parent by Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, or ICE. The rival acquiring company, founded in 2000, has expanded rapidly through acquisitions during the past decade. The SEC said in a filing that it has determined that the merger of the exchanges will comply with securities laws and regulations.
Judge won't fast-track Icahn claim against Dell
A Delaware judge on Friday dealt a blow to activist investor Carl Icahn's effort to stop CEO and founder Michael Dell's $24.8 billion buyout offer for the struggling computer maker. He refused to fast-track proceedings on Icahn's claims that Dell Inc. directors have betrayed their duties to shareholders in trying to win support for Michael Dell's bid. After three delays, Dell's board has scheduled a special shareholder vote on Sept. 12 for Michael Dell's offer of $13.75 per share, plus a 13-cent dividend. That's to be followed by an overdue annual meeting on Oct. 17.
Other business news
• With the thought that the demolition of the old Penn Lincoln Hotel in Wilkinsburg will bring a new business into the borough, the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County on Friday approved a $42,000 Community Development Block Grant for L.R. Kimball & Associates to monitor the demolition, and also spelled out what responsibility the borough, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and the county will have on the project. To make the site more attractive, the county plans to purchase and demolish an unused parking garage behind the building's parking lot.