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Business news in brief

In the Region

Shares rise on news of cancer drug

Shares of Cephalon Inc., Frazer, rose yesterday after an analyst said tumor fighter Treanda may reach $1 billion in annual sales, more than 10 times revenue last year. Earlier, data had been reported supporting its use as an initial therapy for immune-system cancers. Treanda is approved for patients with a slow-growing form of non-Hodgkins' lymphoma that doesn't respond to other drugs. The newest data on Treanda were reported over the weekend at the American Society of Hematology meeting in New Orleans. "It could be a widely used alternative" to the chemotherapy standard, said David Amsellem, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. Cephalon's shares rose $1.30, or 2.4 percent, to $56.68. - Bloomberg News

Survey: 2010 raises lowest in decade

Workers in the United States will see median pay hikes of 2.5 percent in 2010, the lowest annual increase in the last decade, the Hay Group, a Philadelphia consulting firm, reported. The forecast also is down from a projected median increase of 3.0 percent made by Hay in July. The median is the middle point, with an equal number above and below that level. After factoring in the consumer price index growth forecast for 2010 at 1.8 percent, the pay increase next year will amount to a "real" gain of 0.7 percent, Hay said. Raises in base pay were strongest in the energy, financial-services, and life-sciences industry, and they were less in health care, health insurance and at industrial companies, the report said. - Paul Schweizer

Bon-Ton arranges new financing

The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. said it obtained a $675 million credit facility that it would use for general corporate purposes. Bon-Ton is a York retailer that operates 278 department and furniture stores in 23 states. The new 31/2-year financing will replace an $800 million arrangement that was to expire in 2011. - Paul Schweizer

Firm ready to roll on W.Va. games

Penn National Gaming Inc., Wyomissing, Pa., said yesterday that it plans to install table games at Charles Town Races & Slots in Jefferson County, W.Va., after voters approved a table-game referendum over the weekend. The company plans to have table games ready by the third quarter of 2010, and expects their addition will create at least 500 new jobs at the West Virginia property. Penn National owns and operates racetracks with slot machines in 15 markets, including Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pa., and is developing casinos in Ohio, Kansas, and Maryland. - Suzette Parmley

J&J Snack Foods boosts dividend

The board of directors of J&J Snack Foods Corp., Pennsauken, said it had declared a quarterly cash dividend of 10.75 cents per share of common stock payable on Jan. 6 to shareholders of record as of the close of business Dec. 15. The cash dividend represents a 10.3 percent increase from the previous quarterly dividend. J & J Snack Foods Corp.'s principal products include Superpretzel, Pretzel Filler, Icee, and Slush Puppie. - Chris Mondics

Company opens plant on client's site

Graham Packaging Co. L.P., York, has started manufacturing plastic containers in St. Louis at the site of its client there: Henkel Consumer Goods Inc. Graham's plant is making plastic bottles for Purex laundry detergent for Henkel, a subsidiary of Henkel AG & Co. KGaA of Germany and maker of Dial, Renuzit, Right Guard and other products. Graham also has a bottle-making plant next to a Pennsylvania-based Henkel plant in West Hazleton, Luzerne County. - Roslyn Rudolph


Nov. job index rose by most in 4 years

A measure of U.S. job prospects jumped in November by the most in four years, signaling the U.S. economy will soon start creating jobs, a private survey showed. The Conference Board's Employment Trends Index rose 1.8 percent to 90.8, the research group said. It was the fourth consecutive increase and the biggest since November 2005. The report indicates the string of 23 months of payroll losses that began in January 2008 will soon end. The index aggregates eight labor-market indicators to forecast short-term hiring trends. On average, the gauge can signal a rebound in hiring as little as three months before the fact and can predict job declines six to nine months in advance, the Conference Board said. - Bloomberg News

SEC sues subprime-firm executives

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued three former New Century Financial Corp. executives for allegedly concealing from investors that the company's subprime business was at risk of collapse. Brad Morrice, former chief executive officer; Patti Dodge, ex-finance chief; and David Kenneally, former controller, failed to disclose dramatic rises in early loan defaults, loan buybacks and pending repurchase requests, the SEC said in a statement. All three denied the allegations. New Century was the No. 2 subprime lender when it filed for bankruptcy in April 2007. - Bloomberg News

Yahoo launches online privacy tool

Yahoo Inc. wants its users to know what it knows about them. The Internet company is rolling out an online tool that allows consumers to see, and edit, the personal profiles that Yahoo has compiled about them based on their Web browsing behavior. Those profiles are used to target Internet advertising. Yahoo's new Ad Interest Manager tool, released in test form yesterday, is part of a broader industry push toward self-regulation. - AP

Rates mixed on 3-, 6-month T-bills

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills were mixed in yesterday's auction. The Treasury Department auctioned $30 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.050 percent, down from 0.060 percent last week. An additional $31 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.165 percent, up from 0.150 percent last week. The discount rates reflect that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,998.74, while a six-month bill sold for $9,991.66. - AP

Yields rise for 1-year T-bills

The Federal Reserve said yesterday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 0.29 percent last week from 0.27 percent the previous week. - AP