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Business news in brief

In the Region

A&P reaches terms with supplier

The bankrupt corporation that owns Pathmark and Superfresh stores said Monday it had renegotiated its contract with the same major food supplier that it had partly blamed for its woes when the grocer filed for bankruptcy protection in December. The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. said that it had reached new terms with C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. and that the new agreement would save the Montvale, N.J., supermarket debtor more than $50 million a year once it emerges from Chapter 11 reorganization. A&P had blamed "unfavorable" contracts with C&S, then supplier of about 70 percent of inventory at its stores, among the factors leading to its bankruptcy declaration. The new deal requires approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. - Maria Panaritis

Vanguard begins Canadian operation

The Vanguard Group, the Chester County mutual-fund giant, started a Canadian investment operation, based in Toronto, the company said. Hired to run Vanguard Investments Canada Inc. is Atul Tiwari, formerly an executive with BMO Financial Group and past president and chief executive of Harris Insight Funds. Vanguard's Canadian plan is to start by selling mutual funds and exchange-traded funds through investment advisers. Foreign operations account for 8 percent of Vanguard's assets. - Harold Brubaker

Astra to pay after bias suit

AstraZeneca P.L.C. will pay $250,000 to 124 current and former female employees of its Wayne business center to settle a pay-discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Labor in May 2010. The suit alleged that the pharmaceutical company, which has a $2 billion contract with the Veterans Administration, paid female sales specialists an average of $1,700 less than their male counterparts. AstraZeneca will analyze base pay of an additional 415 salespeople in 13 states and the District of Columbia to determine whether other female workers are underpaid. The company said it had "reached this agreement to resolve the matter without further legal proceedings. We are confident that our compensation practices then and now are fair and non-discriminatory - and this settlement supports our position." - Alan J. Heavens

Holt repays federal loans

Holt Logistics Corp. repaid $5.6 million in federal loans dating to 1984 that financed construction of the Gloucester Marine Terminal in Gloucester City. Holt initially borrowed $3.6 million, and then $2 million more that year. With interest, Holt

repaid the government almost $7 million over the years. - Alan J. Heavens


Goolsbee to leave Obama council

Austan Goolsbee, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is returning to the University of Chicago, the White House said in a statement Monday. Goolsbee was a professor at the university for 14 years before joining the Obama administration in 2009 as a member of the council. He was named chairman last year. In the White House statement, President Obama described Goolsbee as "one of America's great economic thinkers." Goolsbee will return to Chicago in time for the start of the school year, the White House said. - Bloomberg News

Diamond withdraws Fed nomination

Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond is withdrawing his nomination for the Federal Reserve board. The White House said it was "deeply disappointed." Press secretary Jay Carney said Diamond "fell victim to partisan obstructionism." Senate Republicans blocked a floor vote on Diamond's confirmation and have questioned his practical experience and research. He is considered an authority on Social Security, pensions, and taxation. - AP

Shell to build petrochemical plant

Shell Oil Co. said it was developing plans to build a large Appalachian petrochemical plant to process or "crack" ethane from Marcellus Shale natural gas. The location is not yet determined. Ethane is a valuable side stream of Marcellus production in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Ethane is processed into ethylene and derivatives such as polyethylene, a raw material in plastics. Most of the material now produced in the region is shipped to Gulf Coast plants. "A typical cracker and derivatives complex would cost in the region of several billion dollars to develop, and 'world scale' crackers generally produce more than a million tons of ethylene per year, said a Shell representative. - Andrew Maykuth

Rates fall on short-term bills

Interest rates on short-term Treasury bills fell in Monday's auction. The Treasury Department auctioned $27 billion in three-month bills at a discount rate of 0.045 percent, down from 0.060 percent last week. An additional $24 billion was auctioned in six-month bills at a discount rate of 0.105 percent, down from 0.115 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 $9,998.86, while a six-month bill sold for $9,994.69. - AP

Yield on one-years drops

The Federal Reserve said Monday that the average yield for one-year Treasury bills, a popular index for making changes in adjustable rate mortgages, dipped to 0.18 percent last week down from 0.19 percent the previous week. - AP