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Business news in brief

In the Region

Foreclosure sales below peak

Foreclosures accounted for 13.79 percent of all houses sold in Pennsylvania and 15.60 percent in New Jersey in the first quarter,


reported Thursday. Nationally, 27.53 percent of sales were foreclosures, RealtyTrac said. They accounted for 53 percent of first-quarter sales in Nevada, 45 percent in California and Arizona, and 32 percent in Florida. Sales volume of 158,434 was well below the first-quarter 2009 peak of 350,000, said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, who added that "while this is probably helping to keep home prices relatively stable, it is also delaying the housing recovery." At the first-quarter pace, it would take exactly three years to clear the inventory of 1.9 million properties already on the banks' books, or in foreclosure, Saccacio said.

- Alan J. Heavens

$10 million award in Motrin case

A 13-year-old girl was awarded $10 million Tuesday after a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury determined she suffered a life-threatening reaction from taking Children's Motrin brand ibuprofen a decade ago. Brianna Maya, of Tennessee, was 31/2 when her parents gave her the over-the-counter drug to treat a fever and cough. The nine-week trial was held in Philadelphia because McNeil Laboratories is based in Fort Washington and the drug was made there, said her attorney, Eric Roberson. Other defendants included McNeil's parent company,

Johnson & Johnson

, and Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a McNeil division. McNeill said it sympathizes with the family but "strongly disagrees" with the verdict and was considering legal options.

- Sam Wood

CEOs say N.J. more business-friendly

Business leaders surveyed say New Jersey is becoming a friendlier place to do business, but it still fares worse than other states. Three-quarters of CEOs surveyed said the state had become more responsive to companies' needs during the last six months; just 30 percent felt that way in 2009. Seventy-four percent said they expected their revenues to go up in 2011. While not a scientific poll, the survey by

Rutgers University

and the

New Jersey Business and Industry Association

reflects how business leaders perceive the state's economic conditions. Of 216 businesses that received the survey, 114 responded.

- AP

Comcast downloads pass 20 billion

Comcast Corp.

, Philadelphia, said its customers had now downloaded more than 20 billion TV shows, movies, and music videos on its On Demand platform. The service, launched eight years ago with about 1,000 TV shows or movies, has 25,000 TV shows or movies available to about 20 million customers. Most downloads are free, with movie prices at $5.99 to $9.99.

- Bob Fernandez


Car labels to show fuel use

U.S. cars and light trucks will carry labels comparing estimated five-year fuel costs with those of the average new vehicle after industry opposition to adding fuel-economy letter grades to the window stickers. The labels, which will include annual fuel-cost estimates, must be affixed to passenger cars and trucks sold in the United States starting with model year 2013, the

Environmental Protection Agency

and the

Transportation Department

said in a statement. The new stickers will rate vehicles on a scale of 1 to 10 for smog and greenhouse-gas emissions.

- Bloomberg News

Whistleblowers could get big awards

Whistleblowers who report corporate fraud or other misconduct to the government could receive sizable cash awards under new rules adopted by federal regulators. Tipsters would be eligible if they gave the

Securities and Exchange Commission

information that led to an enforcement action resulting in more than $1 million in penalties. The SEC would pay up to 30 percent of the money it recovered from a company or person.

- AP

Banks offer cash transfers

Three of the nation's four largest banks are launching a system that lets customers transfer money from their checking accounts using only a mobile number or e-mail address. The banks say the service, called clearXchange, will make payments easier than traditional money transfers, which require a bank routing number and move through a system controlled by

Federal Reserve

banks. The service is a venture of

Bank of America Corp.


JPMorgan Chase & Co.

, and

Wells Fargo & Co.

- AP

GM to add 2,500 jobs at Mich. plant

General Motors Co.

will add 2,500 jobs at a Detroit-area factory, investing $69 million so the plant can make two new Chevrolet sedans. The factory, which straddles the border of Detroit and Hamtramck, a small enclave, now makes the Chevrolet Volt and its European counterpart, the Opel Ampera. GM said it would upgrade the plant so that it could run around the clock making the midsize Malibu and revamped Impala, a large sedan. About 1,200 of the jobs will be new hires, because GM still has to recall about 1,300 laid-off workers in the United States. The company said new hires at the plant would get around $14 an hour, about half the rate of veteran United Auto Workers union members.

- AP

Businesses cut durable-goods orders

Businesses cut back on their orders for heavy machinery, computers, autos, and airplanes in April, reducing demand for long-lasting manufactured goods by the largest amount in six months. Orders for durable goods fell 3.6 percent, and a key category that is a proxy for business investment was down 2.8 percent, the

Commerce Department

reported. The weakness was widespread as the impact of supply disruptions stemming from the Japanese earthquake in March rippled through U.S. manufacturing.

- AP

Yields on money funds unchanged

The average seven-day yield on taxable money-market funds was 0.02 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 0.02 percent this week, unchanged from last week.

- Rhonda Dickey