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Business news in brief

In the Region

Pa. gas headed for Big Apple

Natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania will be piped into Manhattan through a new 16-mile pipeline to be built by Spectra Energy Corp., officials said. Shipping agreements with New York utility Consolidated Edison Inc. and gas producers Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Statoil ASA are sufficient to proceed with the project, though its final cost has not been determined, Houston-based Spectra said. The expansion will deliver as much as 800 million cubic feet of natural gas a day into New York City, broadening the market for planned output from the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, Chesapeake chief executive Aubrey McClendon said. The pipeline is scheduled to be in service by the end of 2013. - Bloomberg News

InTest meets Nasdaq listing rules

InTest Corp., a Cherry Hill technology company, said it has gained compliance with Nasdaq's price requirement for continued listing. The Nasdaq Capital Market requires listed companies to have a closing price of at least $1 a share for 10 straight trading days. InTest, which makes test equipment for semiconductors, said it achieved that Dec. 22 and was notified of its compliance by Nasdaq the next day. Before the start of that 10-day period on Dec. 9, the company's shares had not closed above $1 all year and were as low as 12 cents in March. Shares closed at $1.86, up 41 cents. - Paul Schweizer

CEDC gets Russian OK for acquisition

Central European Distribution Corp., the Bala Cynwyd vodka maker and distributor, said the Russian Anti-Trust Commission had approved the company's obtaining voting control of the Russian Alcohol Group. CEDC said it completed its option agreement with London-based investment firm Lion Capital, and with Lion's co-investors, to obtain the equity interest that it didn't already hold. CEDC said in April that it was prepared to spend $532 million in cash, plus stock, to acquire an increasing stake in Russian Alcohol; it already owned a 42 percent share at the time. CEDC expects to complete the acquisition in January. - Roslyn Rudolph

Pilgrim's Pride exits bankruptcy

Chicken producer Pilgrim's Pride Corp., which closed its meat-processing plant in Franconia, Montgomery County, in May as part of a consolidation, said it has emerged from bankruptcy and will soon be part of the world's largest meat producer. Texas-based Pilgrim's Pride filed for bankruptcy protection more than a year ago. The reorganization plan calls for selling a majority stake in the company to Brazilian beef giant JBS. JBS is on track to buy Bertin S.A. - making it the top meat producer. Pilgrim's Pride will also repay all its creditors in full and distributing new shares to current holders. The deal is valued at $2.8 billion. The reorganized company's stock will begin trading today under the ticker symbol "PPC." - AP


Fed proposes exit strategy

The Federal Reserve proposed allowing banks to set up the equivalent of certificates of deposit at the central bank to help it mop up money pumped into the economy to prevent inflation from taking off later. Under the proposal, the Fed would offer "term deposits" that would pay interest, giving banks another incentive to park their money at the Fed, and get it out of circulation. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and other Fed officials have said the creation of so-called term deposits - essentially the equivalent of CDs for banks - would be one of several tools to drain money from the economy, when needed.
- AP

Audi to spend $10.5B on expansion

Audi AG said it plans to spend $10.51 billion on plant upgrades, new products, and technology research as it moves to expand its number of customers worldwide and increase market share. Audi, based in Ingolstadt, Germany, and a unit of Volkswagen AG, said it plans to spend that amount from 2009 to 2012 and will increase the number of models from its current 34 to a planned 42 by 2015. About 80 percent of the planned spending will go toward new products and future technologies. - AP

Ford to test electric cars in Germany

Ford Motor Co. will start a two-year test program of electric Focus compact cars and Transit vans in Germany on Jan. 4 as the company prepares to introduce battery-powered models as early as next year. The 25 vehicles will be driven under normal traffic conditions in Cologne, where Ford's European division is based, said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Germany's University of Duisburg-Essen, which is overseeing the $22 million study. - Bloomberg News

... and beef up its muscle car here

Meanwhile, Ford is reviving a bigger, more powerful V-8 engine for its Mustang as the muscle car tries to fend off a sales challenge from General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet Camaro. A Mustang version with the 5-liter V-8 will be available in 2010's second quarter, according to the automaker. That engine size had been retired in 1995 after three decades. Ford, in a rivalry that dates to the late 1960s, is adding an engine with 412 horsepower, 31 percent more than the current 4.6-liter Mustang V-8. The Camaro, with a 426-horsepower V-8, debuted in April and has outsold the Ford model each month since June.
- Bloomberg News

Short-term T-bill rates rise slightly

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills rose to the highest levels since September. The Treasury Department auctioned $28 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.110 percent, up from 0.070 percent last week. An additional $29 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.200 percent, up from 0.170 percent last week. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,997.22, while a six-month bill sold for $9,989.89. - AP

... yield also up on two-year notes

The Treasury also sold $44 billion of two-year notes at a yield of 1.089 percent, the highest since Aug. 25. At the November auction, two-year notes yielded 0.802 percent. - Bloomberg News

... and on secondary-market T-bills

The Federal Reserve said the average yield in the secondary market for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, edged up to 0.41 percent last week from 0.37 percent the previous week. - AP