Roundup: Airlines seek November trial date for merger; unemployment aid applications rise to 336K; more
US Airways, American want November trial date for merger
US Airways and American Airlines said on Thursday that they want a Nov. 12 court date to argue their case for a merger in front of a judge, but the Department of Justice wants to schedule the trial next year. A federal judge will ultimately make the scheduling decision. US Airways CEO Doug Parker told employees in a message that the company is trying to get to court as quickly as possible to fight the Justice Department. “Along with our colleagues at American Airlines, we are looking forward to proving in a court what all of us have known all along — that this merger is good for competition and, as a result, extremely good for consumers,” said Parker. The Justice Department shocked US Airways and American executives when it sued last week to block the merger on antitrust grounds, saying the combination would drive up ticket prices and fees for fliers by eliminating competition.
Jobless applications rise to 336,000
The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week after reaching the lowest level in 5 1⁄2 years. But the broader trend suggests companies are laying off fewer workers and could step up hiring in the months ahead. The Labor Department said on Thursday that applications for first-time benefits rose 13,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000 in the week ending Aug. 17. That's up from 323,000 in the previous week, which was the lowest since January 2008. The four-week average, which smooths week-to-week fluctuations, fell by 2,250 to 330,500. That's the sixth straight decline and the lowest for the average since November 2007. At the depths of the recession in March 2009, applications numbered 670,000.
More problems plague MarkWest plant
MarkWest Energy Partners LP had a “system disruption” and lost power at its Washington County gas processing plant on Thursday, the latest in a string of issues at the plant. Department of Environmental Protection officials were investigating the incident, an agency spokesman said. It happened at the same time the company is negotiating with the agency about how quickly to fix repeated emissions of black smoke from the plant in Chartiers, a problem the company is likely to get fined for, according to the DEP. Company spokesman Robert McHale did not say what triggered the problems, but did write in an email that the smoke from the plant was a sign the emergency flare worked as it's supposed to. The company has brought in outside experts and engineering consultants to fix the ongoing problems, he said. The work will require custom manufacturing “and may take some time to fully test and implement,” he said.
30-year mortgage loan jumps to 4.58%
Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose this week to their highest levels in two years, driven by heightened speculation that the Federal Reserve will slow its bond purchases later this year. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said on Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan jumped to 4.58 percent, up from 4.40 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.60 percent from 3.44 percent. Both averages are the highest since July 2011. Rates have risen more than a full percentage point since May. The spike last week occurred after more Fed members signaled they could be open to reducing the bond purchases as early as September. The purchases have helped keep long-term interest rates low, including mortgage rates. Despite the increase, mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. And recent reports suggest the jump in rates has yet to sap the housing recovery's momentum.
AK Steel settles air pollution violations
AK Steel Corp. is paying a $1.6 million civil penalty to resolve air pollution violations that occurred at its now-closed coke plant in Ashland. The settlement calls for AK Steel to spend at least $2 million to improve emissions at its Ashland West Works facility. The West Chester, Ohio, company said in a statement on Wednesday that the settlement was reached “without admission of the alleged violations by AK Steel.” Robert Dreher of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division says the settlement holds AK accountable for years of violations at the plant. AK Steel closed the coke plant in June 2011.
— Staff and wire reports
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Komando: Boost cellphone signal when nixing landline
- Falling demand for steel not likely to reverse any time soon
- Tourists rush to visit Cuba before American influence felt
- Aggressive drivers to face Progressive surcharges
- Heinz merging with Kraft in mega-deal; headquarters to stay in Pittsburgh
- Economy in steady, but poky expansion
- Dow Chemical, Olin in $5B cash-and-stock deal
- Credit card use reflects confidence, flat wages
- Internet ‘one road in and out’ for rural users
- Reliable family car feels upscale
- Stop foreign dumping, U.S. Steel CEO Longhi tells Congress