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Roundup: Retail trade group reduces annual sales forecast; Anchor gets another extension from lenders; more

| Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Retail trade group reduces annual sales forecast

The nation's largest retail trade group has pared its annual sales forecast because of slower-than-expected growth during the first half of the year tied to winter storms and lingering economic woes. The Washington-based National Retail Federation on Wednesday said it expects retail sales to rise 3.6 percent this year to $3.19 trillion, instead of its original prediction of a 4.1 percent increase released in early February. The figures include sales in stores and online but exclude auto­motive sales and sales at gas stations and restaurants. A series of winter storms hurt retailers particularly in the first quarter, keeping shoppers at home and forcing some stores to close temporarily. That business was hard to make up.

Anchor gets another extension from lenders

Anchor Hocking owner EveryWare Global Inc. has until Tuesday to work out a deal with lenders that would keep the company in business while it struggles to meet the terms on a $250 million loan. The company announced late Tuesday that lenders have agreed to give it another week to comply with the loan terms, extending a deadline that expired on July 22. EveryWare has received several extensions from lenders as the company seeks concessions from labor unions that would lower operating costs. Employees at a glassware plant in Lancaster, Ohio, accepted concessions before the July 4 holiday, but the 450 union workers at a plant in Monaca have rejected amended contracts. The Monaca plant had been idle since July 4, though some employees were invited back to work this week, according to a United Steelworkers official.

Mastech shares slideas earnings disappoint

Mastech Holdings Inc., a Findlay-based provider of information technology staffing services, said it earned $893,000, or 20 cents a share, in the second quarter, up from $789,000, or 18 cents a share, in the same period last year. Revenue was $27.7 million in the April-June quarter, up from $26.1 million a year earlier. Despite the increases, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Horner said the company was “disappointed” with the results because assignments declined and a project was unexpectedly terminated by a customer. Mastech's shares tumbled 20 percent, or $3.32, to $12.78.

SEC nixes $1 share price for some money funds

Regulators have voted by a narrow margin to end a longtime staple of the investment industry — the fixed $1 share price for money-market mutual funds — at least for some money funds used by big investors. The idea is to minimize the risk of a mass withdrawal from the funds during a financial panic. The Securities and Exchange Commission also is letting all money funds block withdrawals when their assets fall below certain levels or impose fees for withdrawals. The rules were adopted on Wednesday by a 3-2 vote, culminating several years of regulatory haggling and false starts. They were opposed by one Democratic and one Republican commissioner.

Other business news

• Mylan Inc. said a federal court in New Jersey granted its request for a temporary restraining order against Apotex Inc. The order prevents Apotex from selling a generic version of the anti-anxiety drug Paxil. Cecil-based Mylan said it is the only generic drugmaker that has received Food and Drug Administration approval to sell Paroxetine, the chemical name for Paxil. A court previously ordered GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil, to stop supplying Paroxetine to Apotex.

• Geisinger Health System and Highmark Inc. said they agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2019. The contract between the state's largest health insurer and the hospital system based in Montour County allows Highmark members to receive treatment at Geisinger at in-network rates. No other information about the contract was disclosed.

— Staff and wire reports

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