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Business news in brief

In the Region

N.J. employers add jobs in November

Employers in New Jersey added 10,000 jobs in November, mostly in the private sector, the state

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

said. The biggest gains were in construction, professional/business services, and health/education services. In all, seven of the department's 10 industry categories showed increases. The state's unemployment rate stayed at 9.2 percent of the workforce. The rate reached a high of 10.0 percent in December 2009.

- Paul Schweizer

Hilferty takes over as insurer's CEO

Daniel J. Hilferty, 54, took over as president and chief executive officer of Independence Blue Cross on Wednesday, succeeding Joseph A. Frick, 58, who will be vice chairman of the health insurer's board of directors. Before being promoted to executive vice president and president of health markets in January, Hilferty had been president and chief executive officer of the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Cos. AmeriHealth is jointly owned by Independence Blue Cross and the Mercy Health System. The succession plan had been announced months ago. - Jane M. Von Bergen

Auditor's review finds serious flaws

State Auditor General Jack Wagner said the

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board

failed to adhere to state procurement procedures and comply with the Sunshine Act in awarding $7 million in contracts for legal and other professional services. The audit also found that the board spent lavishly on travel. A review of 23 contracts the board awarded found serious flaws, including failure by the board to hold open meetings for its selections. Wagner's audit, which covered the period from July 1, 2006, through June 30, 2009, found at least 19 of 23 service contracts did not comply with the Sunshine Act. Wagner made 17 recommendations to fix the deficiencies identified by the audit.

- Suzette Parmley

Lower same-store sales linked to weather

Burlington Coat Factory Investments Holdings Inc.

blamed unseasonably warm weather in September and October for a 5.6 percent decrease in third-quarter sales in stores open for at least a year. The privately held apparel retailer said net sales overall for the three months ended Oct. 30 were $858.2 million, down from $872.4 million for the same period of 2009. Burlington Coat reported a net loss of $2.8 million compared with net income of $7.5 million for the third quarter of 2009.

- Mike Armstrong

Regulators cite Fort Washington plant

Johnson & Johnson

was cited by federal regulators over violations at a Fort Washington plant where the company suspended over-the-counter drug production in May. The facility failed to track customer complaints properly and ensure the quality of over-the-counter drugs including Tylenol Arthritis Relief, Benadryl Fastmelt Tablets, St. Joseph's Aspirin, and Sudafed PE, according to a

Food and Drug Administration

inspection report released Wednesday. The plant was visited from Oct. 27 to Dec. 9. Marc Boston, a spokesman for J&J's McNeil Consumer Healthcare division, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

- Bloomberg News

Sun Bancorp sells problem loans to investor group

Sun Bancorp Inc.

, Vineland, N.J., took a step to clear problem loans off its balance sheet, selling $87 million of commercial real estate loans to a group of investors for net proceeds of $54 million. Sun had already written the loans down to $77 million. The bank said Wednesday that it expected to record a loss of $25 million on the sale in the fourth quarter. Problem loans are those on which borrowers are behind in payments.

- Harold Brubaker


GM pays $2.1B, completing stock repurchase

General Motors Co.

, the automaker that went bankrupt last year and returned to public trading in November, paid $2.1 billion to taxpayers, completing the repurchase of shares issued under a U.S. government bailout. The transaction brings the total amount taxpayers have received in return for their investment in GM to more than $23 billion, the

Treasury Department

said in a statement. Treasury in October accepted an offer from GM to buy back its preferred shares issued under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

- Bloomberg News

Foreclosure filings drop in the U.S.

Foreclosure filings nationwide declined 21 percent in November from October, and 14 percent from November 2009,

RealtyTrac Inc.

reported Thursday. One in every 492 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing during the month. Pennsylvania was 29th of 50 states with one in 969 housing units with a filing. New Jersey was 16th, with one in 668 units receiving a filing. RealtyTrac said the lower numbers were likely caused by delays resulting from "fallout from the foreclosure robo-signing controversy" as well as normal seasonal declines in filings.

- Alan J. Heavens

With slow sales, builder confidence unchanged

Home builder confidence remained flat in December as the industry braced for a slow holiday season, the

National Association of Homebuilders

reported Wednesday. The group said the typical cold-weather slowdown in sales activity was being reinforced by continuing weakness in the job market, the number of foreclosures and short sales, and by challenging credit conditions for builders and buyers.

- Alan J. Heavens

Congress acts to stop scams using false caller IDs



moved Wednesday to stop scammers who use fake caller IDs to trick people into revealing Social Security and credit card numbers and other vital information. House lawmakers trying to wrap up work for the year also passed a second consumer-protection bill that would crack down on third-party sellers who prey on people during online purchasing transactions. The


previously passed both bills, and the House votes send them to President Obama for his signature.

- AP

Money market fund yields unchanged

The average seven-day yield on taxable money market funds was 0.03 percent this week, unchanged from last week, according to

iMoneyNet Inc.

The average yield on tax-free funds was 0.03 percent this week, unchanged from last week.

- Rhonda Dickey