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Business news in brief

In the Region

Possible foreclosure suspensions

Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and four other mortgage lenders and service providers face a possible suspension of foreclosures in New Jersey by Jan. 19, under a judge's order. The action, announced Monday by New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, also covers Citigroup Inc.'s mortgage unit, Ally Financial Inc.'s GMAC mortgage unit, OneWest Bank, and Wells Fargo & Co. The lenders were implicated in "robosigning," the submission of hundreds or thousands of foreclosure claims without personal knowledge of their contents, Rabner said. - Bloomberg News

Deborah appoints a new CEO

Deborah Hospital Foundation, Browns Mills, said its board elected Joseph P. Chirichella as president and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1. He will succeed John R. Ernst, who is retiring after six years as CEO. Chirichella, of Mount Laurel, has worked at the hospital for more than 30 years, currently as vice president of operations. He earned his undergraduate degree from Villanova University and an MBA from Wagner College. The foundation operates the Deborah Heart & Lung Center. - Paul Schweizer

Herley wins add-on $7.5M contract

Herley Industries Inc., Lancaster, said it was awarded a $7.5 million contract to make microwave assemblies for a U.S. Navy electronic attack aircraft. The work will be done for a military prime contractor, which was not identified. Herley said last week it had won a $1 million contract for the same aircraft program. Herley, which has annual sales of about $188 million, manufactures microwave-technology equipment for the defense, aerospace, and medical industries. - Paul Schweizer


Report: Firm may be charged

Accounting firm Ernst & Young L.L.C. may face civil fraud charges in New York for its alleged role in the demise of Lehman Bros., according to a report. The Wall Street Journal said state Attorney General and New York Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo may file the lawsuit this week, with the state possibly seeking fines and other penalties. The case alleges that Ernst & Young did not act appropriately while Lehman misled investors about its financial condition. Lehman was one of Ernst & Young's biggest clients before the investment bank collapsed in 2008, when the financial crisis intensified. The report says Ernst & Young made about $100 million in fees from 2001 through 2008 for its auditing work. An Ernst & Young spokesman declined to comment on the report. - AP

Improved earnings and outlook

Adobe Systems Inc. posted earnings for its latest quarter that exceeded analyst expectations, and that provided a rosy outlook. The maker of Photoshop, Acrobat, and Flash software earned $269 million, or 53 cents per share, in the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Dec. 3. In the same period last year, it posted a loss of $32 million, or 6 cents per share, weighed down by tax effects and restructuring costs. Adjusted earnings were 56 cents per share in the latest quarter, surpassing the average forecast of 52 cents per share among analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Adobe says revenue jumped 33 percent to $1.01 billion from $757 million last year. Adobe says it expects to earn 54 cents to 59 cents per share in the current quarter, excluding items, on revenue $1 billion to $1.05 billion. Analysts were expecting 51 cents, on $992 billion of revenue. - AP

AT&T to buy slices of spectrum

AT&T Inc. will buy $1.93 billion worth of wireless spectrum from Qualcomm Inc. to add capacity to its forthcoming high-speed data network, the companies said. Qualcomm has used the spectrum for its FLO TV service, which allows subscribers to watch 10 to 15 channels of live television on cell phones. Qualcomm will shut down the service in March because of weak interest from consumers. However, Qualcomm stands to make a handsome profit on the spectrum. The purchase will offer AT&T higher speeds to make loading video and websites on phones faster. - Bloomberg News

Moody's warnings and downgrades

Moody's Investor Service rating agency warned Monday that it could downgrade the debt rating of Spanish banks that might need assistance from the government to help them weather Europe's debt crisis and the nation's shaky economy. Moody's issued the warning a week after it put Spanish government debt on review for a possible downgrade amid unemployment of nearly 20 percent and grim growth forecasts. Moody's also downgraded five Irish banks - Allied Irish Banks, Bank of Ireland, EBS Building Society, Irish Life & Permanent, and Irish Nationwide Building Society - and an insurer, including some of the liabilities guaranteed by the government. - AP

Medtronic CEO to step down

Medtronic said Monday that chairman and CEO William A. Hawkins would step down in April after three years leading the medical-device manufacturer. The announcement took Wall Street by surprise, given Hawkins' short time on the job and relative youth. But with the company's sluggish performance in recent years, analysts mostly affirmed the board of director's decision to seek new leadership. Under Hawkins' leadership, shares of the Minneapolis company have declined nearly 30 percent. Hawkins, 56, will retire at the end of the company's fiscal year on April 29, the company said in an announcement. It is searching for a replacement, and Hawkins will stay until a successor is named. - AP

Rates fall on 3-, 6-month bills

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday's auction. The Treasury Department auctioned $29 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.130 percent. That's down from 0.140 percent last week. And $28 billion in six-month bills was auctioned at a discount rate of 0.185 percent. That's down from 0.190 percent last week. A discount rate reflects that the bill is selling for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,996.71 and the six-month price was $9,990.65. - AP

Yield rises for 1-year bills

The Federal Reserve said Monday the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, rose to 0.30 percent last week. That's up from 0.29 percent the previous week. - AP