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Business news in brief

In the Region

Shale boost to manufacturing seen

The abundance of natural gas from formations such as Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale may spark a U.S. manufacturing renaissance that could add one million jobs by 2025, according to a report by PwC, the professional services firm, formally PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. PwC said manufacturers could save as much as $11.6 billion a year by 2025 from lower gas prices. Natural gas is used as a fuel source and as a raw material for commodities such as plastics and fertilizer. The report, commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers, is available at - Andrew Maykuth

Pa. Turnpike to get car chargers

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection awarded $1 million to help develop electric-vehicle charging stations at 17 Pennsylvania Turnpike service plazas. The grant recipient, Car Charging Group L.L.C., will install the units initially as part of ongoing service-plaza renovations between Harrisburg and New Jersey. The chargers will be installed later at plazas between Harrisburg and Ohio, and then along the Northeast Extension. The project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2013. The company will install Level II charging stations, which can charge a car in roughly four hours, as well as Level III stations, which can charge a car in about 20 minutes for motorists with less travel time to spare. - Andrew Maykuth

NCO Group cancels $300M offering

NCO Group Inc., the Horsham outsourcing- services business, said it canceled a $300 million senior notes offering announced Nov. 30 "due to the rates currently available in the market." The notes and related guarantees were being offered in a private placement to redeem existing debt, the company had said. - Reid Kanaley


OPEC agrees to keep up production

OPEC agreed to keep crude output at a daily 30 million barrels but left it up to its 12 members to voluntarily honor that ceiling without overshooting it. Iran had sought lower production for the cartel, which would raise prices. It apparently bowed to Saudi Arabia, which wanted to maintain levels. By leaving it up to members to cut back on output if needed, the organization effectively acknowledged that it had given up efforts to act as a unified regulator of the oil market. - AP

Grand jury subpoena for Solyndra

Solyndra L.L.C., the failed solar-panel maker that got $535 million in government loan guarantees before filing for bankruptcy, received a grand jury subpoena as part of a U.S. Justice Department investigation, according to court records. The subpoena was disclosed in billing records submitted in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington by K&L Gates L.L.P., Solyndra's special counsel. The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. attorney and the Department of Justice, according to the law firm. - Bloomberg News

FAA OKs Boeing's giant for Newark

The Federal Aviation Administration has given Newark Liberty International Airport a waiver so it can receive flights by Boeing Co.'s massive 747-8 airliner, even though runways and taxiways don't meet the width requirements for such planes. The new Boeing is 13 feet wider and 18 feet longer than the company's previous version, the 747-400. It can carry up to 581 passengers, while a 747-400 can carry 524. - AP

China imposes auto-import duties

China has imposed duties on imports of some U.S.-made vehicles, claiming damage from foreign automakers due to dumping and subsidies in the latest round of trade friction between the two countries. China's Commerce Ministry said the duties would be imposed for two years on imported cars and sport-utility vehicles with engine displacements of more than 2.5 liters. The duties range from 2 percent to 21.5 percent. The ministry's notice named General Motors Co., Chrysler Group Ltd., Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc., BMW's factory in Spartanburg, S.C., and Honda of America Manufacturing Co. among the companies affected. - AP

Texas ethylene facility to cost $5B

Chevron Phillips Chemical Co., a joint venture equally owned by Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips, will spend about $5 billion to build one of the first new ethylene production facilities in the United States since 2001. The company selected its site in Baytown, Texas, to convert ethane into ethylene starting in 2017. The industry is investing in production of ethylene, the most widely used petrochemical, as natural gas costs have dropped. Ethane is derived from gas, which has dropped in price as new technologies have boosted production from shale. - Bloomberg News

IMF presses Greece to cut jobs

Greece's rescue creditors pressed it to further scale back the public workforce and workers' pay rights. The International Monetary Fund's top official in Greece said the country had "reached the limit of what can be achieved through raising taxes." Greece has admitted it will miss its deficit targets this year as its revenues remain weak despite draconian tax hikes. Prime Minister Lucas Papademos promised to speed painful reforms as needed. - AP

Music service debuts at $2 a month

A British company has taken the price war for music subscriptions to a new level. Rara, a start-up, launched an all-you-can-listen music service that gives users unlimited access to 10 million tracks over mobile phones for an introductory price of just $2 per month for the first three months. - AP

Survey: Most CEOs don't plan to hire

Two-thirds of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies don't plan to hire in the next six months. The Business Roundtable said about one-third of its member CEOs expect to add employees and spend more on large equipment in that time. That's little changed from three months ago. The group forecast that the economy will expand 2 percent next year - not enough to produce job growth. - AP

Money-fund yields 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 unchanged at 0.01 percent this week. - Reid Kanaley