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Business news in brief

In the Region

Higher jobless rate as more look

The Philadelphia area's unemployment rate increased in April to 9.3 percent from 9.2 percent in March as more people looked for work with the improving economy, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry said. Since not all of them found jobs, the rate increased. The number unemployed locally rose by 4,300 to 280,300; the number with jobs rose by 3,200 to 2,718,100. - Paul Schweizer

L-3 lays off 45 engineers

L-3 Communications, a defense contractor that makes communications and intelligence systems on the Camden waterfront, laid off 45 of its 420 union engineers Tuesday. Sixty-five people, mostly administrative workers, were let go in early May. - Chelsea Conaboy

GM executives to visit Phila.

General Motors Co. is sending executives to Philadelphia this weekend to meet with owners of its discontinued Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer, and Saab brands

and with customers whose neighborhood GM dealerships closed. GM is targeting 8,000 local vehicle owners it dubs "free agents." From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, officials from the company will be at Frederick's Chevrolet on the 6300 block of Roosevelt Boulevard in Northeast Philadelphia, and in Trevose at Faulkner Buick-GMC and Faulkner Cadillac, both on the 4400 block of Street Road. A similar event was held in New York. - Maria Panaritis

Firm: Contract end to cause layoffs

Owens & Minor Inc., a Virginia company that provided supply-chain management to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has notified the state that

on July 1 it is laying off 73 employees who work at the hospital. The company said it could not meet the state-required 60-day notice because it was told "unexpectedly" on May 27 by the hospital that their relationship would be terminated on July 1. A hospital spokeswoman did not respond Tuesday

to questions about whether Owens & Minor would be replaced. Nationwide, Owens & Minor has 4,800 employees. It has freestanding offices in Allentown and West Deptford. - Stacey Burling

Company extends tender offer

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., Allentown, extended its $60-a-share tender offer for Airgas Inc., Radnor, for the second time, moving the deadline to Aug. 13 from June 4. - Harold Brubaker

Stockton Bates joins Milwaukee firm

Philadelphia accounting firm Stockton Bates L.L.P. merged with a Milwaukee rival, Clifton Gunderson L.L.P., Clifton Gunderson said. As part of the deal, Stockton Bates partners John Gallagher, Bruce Lynch, and James Smith became Clifton Gunderson partners; 29 Stockton Bates professionals joined Clifton Gunderson as members of its Mid-Atlantic practice. Stockton Bates had offices in Philadelphia, Haddonfield, and Lancaster. - Harold Brubaker

Del. City refinery sale completed

PBF Energy Co. L.L.C. completed its

$220 million purchase of Valero Energy Corp.'s Delaware City refinery. PBF, the investment vehicle of Petroplus Holdings AG of Switzerland, Europe's largest refining company, plans to spend

$125 million to $150 million refurbishing the plant. - Andrew Maykuth

Loan approved for coating firm

The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority approved a $1.5 million, 15-year loan at 3.75 percent to Liberty Coating Co. L.L.C., a Morrisville company that applies anti-corrosion coatings to pipes used by the natural gas, oil, petrochemical, and water and wastewater industries. - Harold Brubaker

Disaster-aid deadline extended

Federal officials extended the deadline for New Jersey residents and business owners seeking disaster aid for problems stemming from this year's spring floods. Applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state Office of Emergency Management must be received by the close of business July 1. People who suffered losses can register with FEMA by calling 800-621-3362 or online at - AP

US Airways begins route to Halifax

US Airways Group Inc. on Tuesday began a new nonstop route from Philadelphia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. US Airways Express partner Air Wisconsin will fly three round-trip flights a day. The route will operate year-round. Also on Tuesday, US Airways began daily service from Philadelphia to Anchorage, Alaska, from June to October. - Linda Loyd

Vistek Medical acquired by Ohio firm

Vistek Medical, Ivyland, Bucks County, was acquired by GemCity Engineering & Manufacturing, an Ohio manufacturer. The price was not disclosed. But the combined companies are projected to have sales of $50 million to $100 million, said Steven F. Kaplan, general partner of Riverside Partners L.L.C., a private equity firm that is GemCity's majority owner. Vistek makes mostly medical implants, he said. - Roslyn Rudolph


HP announces job cuts, hiring

Hewlett-Packard Co. said Tuesday it would lay off about 9,000 workers in the unit that provides technology services to other businesses as HP consolidates and automates its commercial data centers. HP said it plans to replace two-thirds of those jobs, hiring 6,000 people to boost its global sales and delivery staff. - AP

Congress looks at 'phantom recall'

Congressional Democrats are investigating an alleged "phantom recall" by Johnson & Johnson, in which the company hired a contractor to buy defective painkillers instead of issuing an immediate recall. The company's handling of problems with its Motrin tablets came to light last week at a congressional hearing. - AP

Rates mixed on short-term bills

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills were mixed in Tuesday's auction. The Treasury Department auctioned $27 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.160 percent, down from 0.165 percent last week. Another $27 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.220 percent, unchanged from 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 $9,995.96; a six-month bill sold for $9,988.88. - AP