In the Region

Gas, electricity pricier in Phila. area

Philadelphia-area energy consumers paid more last month for gasoline, natural gas and electricity than the national average for metropolitan areas. The

Bureau of Labor Statistics

said gasoline averaged $2.37 a gallon in the Philadelphia/Wilmington/Atlantic City region, 7 percent more than the national average. Natural gas

customers paid $1.70 per therm, 24 percent more. Electricity customers paid 15.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, 28 percent more.

- Jeff Gelles

Sunoco weighing OSHA fines

Sunoco Inc.

is weighing whether to pay or appeal fines for 25 safety violations at its Eagle Point Refinery in Westville. Last week's citations from the

U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration

, including nine repeat violations, carry fines of $305,000 and involve risk of "serious injury and possible death." Spokesman Thomas Golembeski said Sunoco was exercising its right to contest the citations. He had no comment on previous citations, but said safety "continues to be our main focus."

- Inquirer Staff

Gift-wrapping sign of the times

Gift-wrap and greeting-card maker

CSS Industries Inc.

, Philadelphia, said it expected to fall short of its previously announced per-share earnings target of $2.40 to $2.55 for the current fiscal year. Without giving a new projection, CSS blamed "deterioration in the retail environment brought on by the general economic downturn."

- Paul Schweizer

Workers finally get back 401(k)


U.S. Department of Labor

has appointed a benefits administrator to run the 401(k) plan of a defunct West Chester company,

Five Star Industrial Services

, which shut down in 1995. The Labor Department said that former employees of the mechanical-engineering company had not been able to access their accounts. The new administrator is

Metro Benefits Inc.

of Pittsburgh.

- Roslyn Rudolph

Temple executive resigns

Robert E. Pezzoli

has resigned as chief operating officer of

Temple University Health System

and interim chief executive officer of

Temple University Hospital

. Spokeswoman Rebecca Harmon said Pezzoli planned to "pursue other opportunities." In November,

Edmond F. Notebaert

took over as senior executive vice president for health affairs at Temple University.

- Stacey Burling

Fired pregnant worker owed $17,000


Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

said it had ordered

Fidelity Mortgage Services Inc.

, Philadelphia, and its vice president,

Alex Vulakh

, to pay $17,405 plus interest to

Megan LaBree

after she was illegally terminated in 2006 for being pregnant. It also ordered Fidelity Mortgage Services to end what it called "discriminatory practices." Chairman

Stephen A. Glassman

said that "in spite of progress we have made, pregnant women still suffer illegal discrimination in the workplace." The commission said attempts at reconciliation with the company were unsuccessful. It issued its finding in May and ordered the payments yesterday. The company's phone line was not working late yesterday.

- Inquirer Staff


Wal-Mart reaches $640M settlement

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

, the world's largest retailer, will pay as much as $640 million to settle 63 federal and state class-action suits claiming the company cheated hourly workers and forced them to work through breaks. The settlement ends actions pending in federal court and most state courts - except for Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts. The company will record an after-tax fourth-quarter expense of $250 million, or about 6 cents a share. "In terms of money, it doesn't move the needle at Wal-Mart, but cleaning it up is going to be viewed as a positive by everyone, including Wall Street," said retail-industry analyst

Howard Davidowitz


- Bloomberg News

Fen-phen lawyer still guilty

A federal appeals court in Mississippi has upheld the conviction of a lawyer for swindling


pharmaceuticals out of millions of dollars over the diet drug fen-phen. Vicksburg lawyer

Robert Arledge

was convicted in federal court in 2007 and sentenced to six years for his role in the scheme, which netted more than $6 million from Wyeth. Prosecutors said Arledge knowingly allowed clients to make claims of about $250,000 each, even though they had no legitimate health problems caused by the drug.

- AP

Madoff investor found dead

The founder of an investment fund that lost $1.4 billion with

Bernard L. Madoff

committed suicide at his Manhattan office, marking a grim turn in a scandal that has left investors around the world in financial ruin.

Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet

, 65, was found sitting at his desk with both wrists slashed. NYPD spokesman

Paul Browne

said no suicide note was found. De la Villehuchet's

Access International Advisors L.L.C.

was one of several funds to be hit hard in Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

- AP

PNC-Nat City marriage is approved

Shareholders of

PNC Financial Services Group


National City Corp.

, in separate meetings, gave formal approval of their merger to be completed by late 2009. PNC is paying $5.6 billion with money it obtained through the government's $700 billion bailout program. PNC is the first U.S. bank to use such money to make an acquisition. The combined bank will have about $180 billion in deposits and more than 2,700 branches, including 8.2 percent of the market in the eight-county Philadelphia area as of June 2008.

- AP

GlaxoSmithKline, Archemix in deal

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C.


Archemix Corp.

said they would work together to develop drugs for inflammatory diseases, in a deal that could be worth as much as $1.4 billion. Archemix, of Massachusetts, will do the research, starting with $27.5 million in up-front payments from GlaxoSmithKline.

- AP

Southwest to lease back planes

Southwest Airlines Co.

, the discount carrier with large Philadelphia operations, said it would sell 10 Boeing 737 jets and then lease them back, to raise cash. Southwest did not identify the buyers.

American Airlines

said Dec. 2 that it planned to sell 39 aircraft.

United Airlines

said Dec. 9 that it had raised $150 million in a sale-leaseback of 15 planes.

- Bloomberg News