In the Region

Jobless rate drops in Phila. area

Unemployment in metropolitan Philadelphia fell 0.1 of a percentage point in February to 8.5 percent, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry reported. Total nonfarm jobs in the area, seasonally adjusted, rose by 1,000, while the number of people unemployed fell by 2,300.

Jobs rose by 11,600 in education/health services as students returned to class after winter break. Postholiday retail jobs dropped by 5,800. In the city of Philadelphia, the jobless rate fell 0.2 of a point from January to 10.1 percent, the department said. - Paul Schweizer

A.C. casino profit plunged last year

Atlantic City's 11 casinos reported their gross operating profit fell by nearly 28 percent last year amid fierce competition from casinos in neighboring states. Year-end tax data released by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement showed the casinos with a total gross operating profit of nearly $535 million. That's down from the nearly $730 million in gross operating profit in 2009. The figure includes earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and other costs and is a widely accepted measure of profitability in the industry. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa had the biggest annual profit at $174.6 million; the Atlantic City Hilton had the greatest loss at nearly $19 million. The Hilton is seeking a new buyer. - AP

Two unions vie for Cooper workers

Two unions are competing to organize about 750 non-nursing workers at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. After United Food & Commercial Workers Local 152 filed an election petition with the National Labor Relations Board in Philadelphia March 17, the Health Professionals & Allied Employees union, which represents nurses at the 600-bed hospital, intervened, convincing the labor board it had some support among the workers and should also be on the April 29 ballot. Mark Belland, an attorney of UFCW Local 152, said the UFCW had been working on the Cooper organizing effort for "the better part of a year" and "has the vast majority of support and signed authorization cards." The Health Professionals union, which faces contract negotiations at Cooper this year, did not respond to a call seeking comment. - Harold Brubaker

Air Products boosts prices again

For the third time in less than five months, Air Products & Chemicals Inc., Allentown, said it was raising the price on six lines of its surfactant additives because of rising raw-material costs. The latest increase, effective May 1, is five cents per pound for the surfactants, which are wetting agents used in paints, coatings, inks, and adhesives. The company late last year and again in March imposed two rounds of price increases on the same products. Each increase was for between three cents and six cents a pound. - Paul Schweizer

Cubist, Teva resolve dispute

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. agreed to license its antibiotic Cubicin to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., resolving a patent dispute. Teva has major operations in the Philadelphia area. Teva may start selling its generic version in June 2018 if Cubist is granted a six-month extension of marketing protection for pediatric use, Lexington, Mass.-based Cubist said in a statement. The patent is due to expire in September 2019. Without pediatric clearance, Teva may sell Cubicin starting in December 2017. - Bloomberg News

Exports rise sharply in Delaware

Delaware's exports to foreign countries rose to $4.9 billion last year, a 15 percent jump from 2009, the Philadelphia U.S. Export Assistance Center said. The state's biggest trading partners were Canada ($1.2 billion in Delaware exports), the United Kingdom ($972 million), and China ($361 million). The top merchandise category for Delaware, the headquarters of DuPont Co., was chemicals, which accounted for half of the state's 2010 exports. - Paul Schweizer

Elsewhere

McDonald's hiring 50,000

McDonald's Corp. will hold its first national hiring day April 19 to fill 50,000 openings at its restaurants nationwide. McDonald's is hiring restaurant crew and management for full-time and part-time positions. In the Philadelphia area, the company and its franchisees seek to hire up to 1,325 new crew and restaurant management positions. - AP

Challenges to FCC rules dismissed

A federal appeals court dismissed two challenges to new Federal Communications Commission regulations that prohibit phone and cable companies from interfering with Internet traffic on their broadband networks. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia dismissed lawsuits filed by Verizon Communications Inc. and MetroPCS Communications Inc. on technical grounds. The court said the companies filed their challenges prematurely since the rules have not yet been published in the federal register. - AP

Citi to clear smaller checks first

Citibank will soon start clearing customer checks in a way that minimizes the potential for multiple overdraft charges. In an internal memo, it said it would process checks starting with the smallest amounts first as of July 25. Most banks process larger checks first, which consumer advocates say increases the potential for multiple overdraft violations on checking accounts. Banks say the high-to-low processing helps consumers because larger checks tend to be for mortgages and other high-priority payments. But consumer advocates say it is a way for banks to rake in more overdraft charges. - AP

Rates fall on 3-, 6-month T-bills

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday's auction with rates on six-month bills hitting a record low. The Treasury Department auctioned $32 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.050 percent, down from 0.100 percent last week. An additional $30 billion was auctioned in six-month bills at a discount rate of 0.130 percent, down from 0.170 percent last week. The discount rate reflects that the bills sell for less than face value. For a $10,000 bill, the three-month price was $9,998.74, while a six-month bill sold for $9,993.43. - AP

Average 1-year yield edges up

The Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable-rate mortgages, edged up slightly to 0.30 percent last week from 0.26 percent the previous week. - AP