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Business news in brief

In the Region

Refunds available for 'Shrek' glasses

McDonald's customers who bought Shrek-themed glasses at the restaurant chain can return them starting Wednesday for $3 per glass, the company said. McDonald's announced the recall Friday of 12 million glasses because they were decorated with materials that contain cadmium, a heavy metal that poses health risks. McDonald's said that the Consumer Product Safety Commission says "the glassware is not toxic" and that the recall is being conducted "out of an abundance of caution." For more information, visit - Jeff Gelles

Building restarts on casino

Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem officially restarted construction on its 300-room hotel tower. Among those attending the groundbreaking were casino president Robert DeSalvio and Mike Leven, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. The $743 million casino, housed on land formerly occupied by Bethlehem Steel Corp., debuted on May 22, 2009. Its $50 million hotel and a planned retail mall had been put on hold because of tight credit markets and the weak economy. Las Vegas Sands said the new hotel - to be completed by May 2011 - will help attract overnight table games players. - Suzette Parmley

Firm takes over asset management

Aberdeen Asset Management Inc., Philadelphia, said it was taking over the management of $500 million in assets from four mutual funds that were advised by an entity affiliated with the Bank of Hawaii. The deal involves four Pacific Capital funds that will be reorganized into corresponding Aberdeen funds. Aberdeen, which manages and services $47 billion in assets, did not say how much it paid to assume the assets. - Harold Brubaker

Sparks Marketing gets $18.8M loan

PNC Bank said it provided an $18.8 million secured loan to Sparks Marketing Group Inc., a Philadelphia company that organizes corporate events and provides custom fixtures for retailers. The loan is for refinancing debt and for working capital, PNC said. Sparks did not respond to a request for comment. - Harold Brubaker

OSHA cites 2 Postal Service sites

Two Philadelphia U.S. Postal Service distribution centers face $497,000 in fines for letting inadequately trained employees perform work without the proper protective equipment while being exposed to live electrical parts, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday. OSHA cited the Postal Service with four willful violations at the network distribution center at 1900 Byberry Rd., and with one serious and three willful violations at the Processing and Distribution Center at 7500 Lindbergh Blvd. In a statement, the post office said: "We will review OSHA's concerns and make necessary adjustments to continue to ensure a safe working environment for our employees." - Jane M. Von Bergen

Air Products to build Chinese plant

Air Products & Chemicals, Allentown, said it would help build a hydrogen production plant for PetroChina Co. Ltd., a major oil and gas company. Air Products says it marks the first time a state-owned refinery in China has called on an outside company to fill its need for hydrogen. The plant will be built by a joint-venture company that it owns with Technip in Sichuan, China, where the PetroChina refinery is located. - Paul Schweizer


EU nations resolve to cut debt

European Union nations, meeting in Luxembourg, vowed to start cutting their debt by next year and to tighten oversight of one another's finances to regain credibility with markets and rein in the debt crisis. Finance ministers also gave the EU's statistics agency Eurostat the power to audit national public finances to prevent countries from misreporting or falsifying statistics, as Greece did. Separately, Fitch Ratings said Britain faced a "formidable" fiscal challenge and must cut its budget deficit faster to maintain its top credit rating. - AP

U.S. job openings increase

Job openings in the United States rose in April to the highest level in more than a year, signaling employers may expand staff as the economy rebounds, a federal report showed. Openings increased by 293,000 to 3.08 million, the most since December 2008, the Labor Department said. - Bloomberg News

GM recalling 1.5M vehicles

General Motors Co. said it was recalling about 1.5 million vehicles worldwide to address a problem with a heated windshield wiper fluid system that could lead to a fire. GM conducted a similar recall in 2008 but came across new reports of fires in vehicles that had been fixed. The recall covers the 2006-2009 model year Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, and Hummer H2; 2008-2009 Buick Enclave and Cadillac CTS; 2007-2009 Cadillac Escalade, Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT; 2007-2009 Chevrolet Avalanche, Silverado, Suburban and Tahoe; 2007-2009 GMC Acadia, Sierra, Yukon and Yukon XL; 2007-2009 Saturn Outlook; and 2009 Chevrolet Traverse. - AP

GM to keep 900 more dealerships

About 900 General Motors Co. dealerships the company had planned to cut loose appear to be getting a reprieve. GM North America President Mark Reuss told the Associated Press that GM should wind up with about 5,000 dealers in July. The decision reflects a shift in strategy from GM's previous regime and could save thousands of jobs. An auto industry trade group says about 50 people work at an average new-car dealership. - AP

Trial begins for French trader

Suspected rogue trader Jerome Kerviel went on trial in Paris, accused of gambling tens of billions of Societe Generale's money in secret trades that humiliated the French bank. The scandal led to more than $7 billion in losses once the bank unwound Kerviel's positions in January 2008. - AP

Giving falls; could have been worse

Charitable giving fell by 3.6 percent last year as Americans continued to struggle with the recession, according to an annual survey. Americans gave $303.75 billion during 2009, the second worst year since 1956, when the Giving USA Foundation began its surveys. The worst year was 1974. However, 2009 was the third-straight year giving reached more than $300 billion. - AP