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Business news in brief

In the Region

Airgas again rejects takeover bid

Airgas Inc.,

Radnor, said Wednesday that its board of directors unanimously rejected rival

Air Products & Chemicals Inc.'s

$5.88 billion acquisition offer. Air Products, Allentown, raised its bid 7 percent to $70 a share Dec. 9, calling it the "best and final" offer in its 14-month pursuit of a deal. Airgas' board said that the revised bid was "clearly inadequate" and that it still believes the company is worth at least $78 a share. Air Products' offer is to expire Jan. 14. Both companies sell industrial gases.

- AP

Union: Sunoco to reveal safety policy


United Steelworkers

union said

Sunoco Inc.

agreed to disclose information on the company's safety policies and track record at refineries and other production facilities. The steelworkers, who represent refinery workers, said the Philadelphia oil company also would disclose and explain its worker-fatigue policy and had agreed to work with the steelworkers to develop a tracking system to report on the company's performance. Company spokesmen were not available for comment.

- Andrew Maykuth

N.J. to exchange swaps for bonds

New Jersey's

Economic Development Authority

plans to issue up to $2 billion of bonds in January to refinance school-construction debt and terminate $1.7 billion of interest-rate swaps. The agency will pay an estimated $296 million in termination fees to end the swaps, but the step will save the state about $278 million in debt payments. Swaps were considered a way to save states and municipalities money, but they backfired in the 2008-09 nationwide financial crisis.

- Bloomberg News

Teleflex recalls catheter, cutting sales

Teleflex Inc.,

a Limerick medical-products firm, said it expected to lose a combined $7 million to $9 million in revenue for 2010 and 2011 after one of its subsidiaries was forced to issue a recall for a catheter it sells. The recall was prompted by an increase of "stuck in sheath" reports involving its catheters. That means the user is unable to move the catheter forward or backward, potentially causing a delay in critical therapy.

- Christopher K. Hepp

Marsh & McLennan buys Trion Group

Trion Group Inc.,

a Conshohocken insurance consultant and broker, has been acquired by

Marsh & McLennan Agency L.L.C.

of New York for an undisclosed amount. Trion has $74 million in annual revenue. With the Trion acquisition, Marsh & McLennan, formed in 2008, will have annual revenue of $260 million. All Trion employees are expected to be retained.

- Diane Mastrull

Plosser hints at cut in Fed purchases


Federal Reserve

may need to trim its plan to purchase $600 billion in U.S. Treasurys in response to an accelerating U.S. economy, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia president Charles I. Plosser said. Plosser in 2011 will be a voting member of the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee, which sets the nation's monetary policy, including interest rates. The purchase of Treasurys, announced in November, has been criticized as a possible spark for inflation.

- Bloomberg News

J&J sued over cost of AIDS drugs

Johnson & Johnson

was sued by an AIDS treatment group that said the New Brunswick, N.J., drugmaker overcharged $68,000 for medications purchased under a federal program. The

AIDS Healthcare Foundation

accused J&J of failing to provide discounts required by federal law. J&J, which has major operations in the Philadelphia area, said the allegations were without merit.

- Bloomberg News


More homeowners drop mortgage aid

A growing number of homeowners are dropping out of the main federal foreclosure-relief program, which has been widely criticized for failing to help more people keep their homes. The



said 774,000 homeowners had dropped out as of November, up from 756,000 who had left through October. But 1.4 million people applied for the program, which is aimed at aiding those at risk of foreclosure by lowering their monthly payments.

- AP

U.S. intensifies Windstar probe


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

said it upgraded its investigation into Ford Windstar minivans amid additional concerns over corrosion in the vehicles. The federal agency said it has begun an engineering analysis of about 550,000 Windstars from the 1999-2003 model years.

Ford Motor Co.

has recalled more than 600,000 of the minivans in the United States and Canada since August to address rear axles that can corrode and break.

- AP

Money fund rates again little changed

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

iMoneyNet Inc.

A seven-day yield is an annual yield that is based on the preceding seven days' level of income by the fund. The average yield on tax-free funds was 0.04 percent this week, up from 0.03 percent last week.

- Paul Schweizer

Sony starts music-streaming service

Sony Corp.

launched a music-streaming service in a bid to boost sales of its consumer electronics and break Apple's dominance of the online music business. A subscription gives users access to a catalog of about six million songs, which can be streamed across Sony's Internet-connected devices. The service will debut in the United States in 2011.

- AP

U.S. files WTO action against China

The Obama administration has filed a complaint at the

World Trade Organization

over support China provides its wind-energy producers. The government was acting based on a petition brought by the United Steelworkers union. China's Special Fund for Wind Power Manufacturing requires recipients of aid to use Chinese-made parts and amounts to a subsidy, violating WTO rules, the U.S. Trade Representative's office said.

- Bloomberg News

Holiday shoppers sprint to end

Sales at U.S. stores rose 5.5 percent last weekend compared with the same weekend last year,


, a Chicago research firm, reported. The last weekend before Christmas is always a key one for the merchants, typically representing about one-third of total holiday sales. That weekend last year was marred by a big East Coast snowstorm.

- AP