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Business news in brief

In the Region

Pa. jobless rate rises in May

Pennsylvania's jobless rate rose in May to its highest point in more than 20 years, although it remains well below the national level. The state

Department of Labor and Industry

said yesterday that Pennsylvania's jobless rate rose to 8.2 percent as employers slashed another 17,700 nonfarm jobs in May. The state's jobless rate had been 7.8 percent in April. May's national jobless rate was 9.4 percent. Pennsylvania's jobless rate last stood at 8.2 percent in April 1985. The department also revised April's job losses downward by another 6,500 jobs for a total of 23,800 that month.

- AP

Sovereign Bancorp sues IRS

Sovereign Bancorp Inc.

is suing the

Internal Revenue Service

for $235 million over tax benefits related to a cross-border, tax-reducing transaction designed by British bank Barclays PLC. Sovereign is based in Wyomissing, outside Reading. Sovereign, owned by Spain's Banco Santander SA, says the IRS "erroneously and illegally assessed" taxes,

penalties and interest for tax years 2003 through 2005 based on Sovereign's use of a loan arrangement with Barclays that generated tax benefits for both banks. - Bloomberg News

Fee raised for bags checked at airport

US Airways Group Inc.

said it would begin charging passengers an additional $5 per checked bag if they wait to check the bag at the airport, starting July 9. Passengers can continue to pay $15 for a first checked bag, and $25 for a second bag, if they prepay when they check in for their flight online.

- Linda Loyd

Exelon to cut 500 jobs

Exelon Corp.

, the parent company of Philadelphia utility Peco, said it would eliminate about 500 management and corporate support jobs in response to "economic challenges." The spending cuts will result in savings of about $350 million next year, helping to reduce operations and maintenance spending by about 3.3 percent to $4.35 billion, Exelon said in a statement. The Chicago company said it would record pretax costs of $40 million for the reorganization in the current quarter. The cuts involve 400 corporate support jobs and 100 management positions at the company's Commonwealth Edison utility in Illinois. Exelon said it also would freeze executive salaries and reduce annual and long-term incentive compensation.

- Bloomberg News

Comcast buys out station

Comcast Corp.

, Philadelphia, bought the remaining half of New England Cable News that it didn't own from

Hearst Corp.

to increase regional programming and advertising revenue. Terms weren't disclosed, Comcast said in a statement confirmed by NECN. Buying cable stations gives Comcast greater cash flow than other areas of the business because they don't require as much spending on maintenance, infrastructure and equipment, chief executive officer Brian Roberts said at a conference last

month. - Bloomberg News

TV station may move to Delaware

A New Jersey broadcasting group may soon relocate a Wyoming television station to Delaware.


notified the Federal Communications Commission on Monday that it planned to move KJWY from Jackson, Wyo., to Wilmington, Del. The station's antenna would be in Philadelphia, and the programming would be designed to fill a gap in the Delaware-Philadelphia television market. Federal regulations would require the station to show local-interest entertainment and information. PMCM managing member Bob McAllan says the station wouldn't be affiliated with any major network. PMCM also plans to move KVNV in Ely, Nev., to Monmouth County, N.J.

- AP


Banks borrow less from Fed program

Banks have trimmed their borrowing from the

Federal Reserve's

emergency lending program, an encouraging sign that some credit stresses are abating. The Fed said commercial banks averaged $36.2 billion in daily borrowing over the week that ended Wednesday. That was down from $36.9 billion in the week ending June 10. Investment firms didn't draw any loans for the fifth straight week. The last time they drew any money - just $482 million - was in the week that ended May 13.

- AP

Mortgage rates drop back

Rates for 30-year home loans fell back this week after soaring to the highest level in seven months a week earlier. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 5.38 percent this week, down from 5.59 percent a week earlier, mortgage company

Freddie Mac

said. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.95 percent from 5.04 percent.

- AP

Scrushy liable in $2.88 billion fraud

HealthSouth Corp.


Richard Scrushy

, acquitted in 2005 on criminal charges of directing an accounting fraud, was found liable for $2.876 billion in a civil trial in Birmingham, Ala. "Scrushy knew of and actively participated in the fraud," state court Judge Allwin E. Horn said in his ruling. After a two-week trial, Horn ruled in favor of investors who brought the suit on behalf of the company. "Scrushy was the CEO of the fraud," Horn said in his ruling. The judge decided the case without a jury. Scrushy, 56, testified that only a "bungling idiot" would have contemplated taking the company private, as he was, knowing a fraud might be discovered. Horn heard from former chief financial officers, all of whom pleaded guilty to their roles in the accounting fraud and testified against Scrushy.

- Bloomberg News

Cashing in on frugality

J.M. Smucker Co.

said its fiscal fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, helped by consumers' desire to eat at home and the acquisition of the Folgers coffee brand last year. The maker of jams, jellies and Jif peanut butter reported an adjusted profit that easily beat Wall Street's forecast, and the company raised its earnings guidance for 2010. It said the addition of Folgers helped boost sales and profit. While the company inherited Folgers' customers, the brand has also seen new business from shoppers who are forgoing gourmet brews for lower-cost coffee during the recession.

- AP

RIM reports higher earnings

BlackBerry maker

Research in Motion Ltd.

exceeded first-quarter expectations when it reported a 33 percent rise in profit but disappointed investors with its guidance.

- AP