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Business news in brief

In the Region

US Airways stocks tumble 15.3% on fuel estimate

Shares of US Airways fell 15.3 percent yesterday after chief executive officer Douglas Parker said Philadelphia's dominant airline needed $300 per round-trip ticket just to cover soaring fuel costs. "We need $650 on average just to break even," Parker told an annual shareholders meeting in Tempe, Ariz. Parker did not mention job cuts. He said the board would be meeting during the next couple of days. "I think there is more to come, and there needs to be more," Parker said. US Airways expects U.S. airlines to cut domestic capacity - seats and flights - 9 percent in the fourth quarter and another 9 percent next year because of soaring fuel costs. The carrier's shares closed down 58 cents at $3.20.

- Linda Loyd

Citizens Bank parent forecasts a rough 15 months

Royal Bank of Scotland Group P.L.C., Britain's second- biggest bank and the parent of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, faces "more bad news than good news" for as long as 15 months, chief executive officer Fred Goodwin said. The bank said it was enduring a slump in British housing and declines in securities revenue. While RBS is sticking to its April estimate that this year's credit-related write-downs would be $11.5 billion, Goodwin declined to say whether the bank would meet analysts' 2008 profit estimates. Edinburgh-based RBS said earnings would be "satisfactory" as it increased loan rates and credit requirements in Britain and wrung costs out of ABN Amro Holding NV, which it acquired in October, faster than it had forecast.

- Bloomberg News

Rohm & Haas completes buyback of 9% of shares

Rohm & Haas Co., the Philadelphia producer of acrylic-paint ingredients, bought back an additional 3.1 million of its shares to complete a $1 billion repurchase program. A total of 19.3 million shares, or 9 percent of shares outstanding, were repurchased at an average price of $51.56, Rohm & Haas said in a statement. About 90 percent of the debt-funded program was executed at an average price of $55.59, subject to adjustment, through Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Rohm & Haas said Sept. 10. Rohm & Haas said it expected to have about 193 million shares outstanding June 30.

- Bloomberg News

Cancer researcher Immunicon files for Chapter 11

Immunicon Corp., a Huntingdon Valley cancer research and diagnostic technology developer, said it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Immunicon and its wholly owned subsidiaries signed an asset-purchase agreement with Veridex L.L.C., a Johnson & Johnson company in Warren, N.J., for $31 million. Immunicon and its subsidiaries will keep their assets and continue to operate as the "debtors-in-

possession." The company's stock was delisted from the Nasdaq market in late April and moved to over-the-counter trading because it did not meet the minimum of $2.5 million net worth. Earlier in April, the company announced it was exploring options that included selling part or all of its businesses. Company shares closed down 19 cents, or 70.4 percent, at 8 cents; the price range in the last 52 weeks had been 6 cents to $2.45.

- Roslyn Rudolph


American Airlines raises fuel surcharge $20

American Airlines raised its fuel surcharge $20 per round trip on many routes, just days after it failed in another attempt to raise fares. Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, said the surcharge applied on domestic routes, except where the carrier competes with low-fare airlines.

- AP

4 big home builders fined in runoff-control failures

Four of the nation's largest homebuilders will pay $4.3 million in fines for failing to control runoff at construction sites in 34 states and the District of Columbia, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice announced. Under the settlements, the four companies - Centex Corp., of Dallas; KB Home, of Los Angeles; Pulte Homes Inc., of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; and M.D.C. Holdings Inc., of Denver - will also take steps above what is required by law to keep 1.2 billion pounds of sediment out of the nation's waterways. The states with the most sites covered by the settlements are California, Florida, Texas, Arizona and Nevada. Along with the federal government, seven state co-plaintiffs have joined the settlements. Those states are Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee and Utah. Each state will receive a portion of the penalties based on the number of sites within that state.

- AP

Toyota announces plug-in hybrid vehicle by 2010

Toyota said it would introduce a plug-in hybrid vehicle with next-generation lithium-ion batteries in Japan, the United States and Europe by 2010. The gas-electric vehicles, which can be recharged from a home electrical outlet, will target fleet customers, Toyota Motor Corp. said in a statement. Such plug-in hybrids can run longer as an electric vehicle than regular hybrids. Lithium-ion batteries, now common in laptops, produce more power and are smaller than nickel-metal hydride batteries common in most hybrids now. The joint venture that Toyota set up with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic products, will begin producing lithium-ion batteries in 2009 and move into full-scale production in 2010, Toyota said. The carmaker also said it was setting up a battery-research department this month to develop an innovative battery that could outperform even that lithium-ion battery.

- AP

Publisher Gannett to freeze employee pension plan

Gannett Co. told employees that it was freezing the company pension plan, effective Aug. 1, and replacing it with an enhanced 401(k) program. The changes will affect more than 25,000 of Gannett's 46,000 employees. The newspaper company publishes USA Today and 84 other daily papers in the United States, including the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill. Freezing the pension plan will save about $90 million in 2009, said Gannett spokeswoman Tara Connell, but that will be partially offset by $60 million in costs associated with the enhanced 401(k) plan.

- AP

Bench warrant for swindler who didn't show for jail

A judge in New York issued a bench warrant for the arrest of a hedge-fund swindler whose abandoned car was found on a bridge the day he was supposed to be driving himself to prison. The warrant for Samuel Israel III was issued Monday, but not announced until yesterday by Herb Hadad, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia. While

Suicide is Painless

was scrawled in dust on the hood of Israel's SUV, no body has been found since the car was discovered Monday on a bridge over the Hudson River north of New York City. That's the day Israel was supposed to begin serving a 20-year term for persuading investors to pump $450 million into his Bayou hedge by hiding the losses that eventually forced its collapse. U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas issued the warrant for Israel's arrest as federal agents were "actively searching for Israel," Garcia said in a statement.

- AP

Yields down on taxable, tax-free money markets

The average seven-day yield on taxable money market funds was 1.87 percent this week, down from 1.94 percent last week, according to iMoneyNet Inc. A seven-day yield is an annual yield that is based on the preceding seven days' level of income by the fund. The average yield on tax-free funds fell to 1.20 percent from 1.31 percent last week.

- Rhonda Dickey