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Business news in brief

In the Region

Eyedrops, wart remover confused

Different drugs with similar names can be a dangerous problem, as the Food and Drug Administration alerted the public Wednesday regarding a wart-removing preparation that was confused with eyedrops. The FDA said it received one report of serious injury when a pharmacist mistakenly gave an eye-surgery patient Durasal, the salicylic acid-containing wart remover, instead of the prescribed Durezol eyedrops. Durezol is approved for treatment of inflammation and pain associated with ocular surgery. The FDA can order name changes to products before approving them, but Elorac Inc., distributor of the wart preparation, sold it without FDA approval and has not responded to inquiries about removing the product from sale, the federal agency said. A spokesman for Elorac, based in the Chicago area, could not be reached. - David Sell

NRG Energy ends Delmarva contract

New Jersey-based NRG Energy has officially ended its offshore wind-power contract with Delmarva Power, making the possibility of a wind farm off the coast of Delaware extremely unlikely soon. NRG Energy, the parent company of the wind-project developer Bluewater Wind, ended the contract Tuesday. NRG Energy had said earlier this month that it planned to terminate the contract if a buyer for Bluewater did not come forward because of problems gaining financing for the project. The contract between Delmarva Power and Bluewater, signed in 2008, was considered an essential ingredient in building the proposed wind farm, which would have put 49 to 150 turbines about 13 miles off the Delaware coast. - AP

Chesapeake sells pipeline subsidiary

Chesapeake Energy Corp. has agreed to sell a pipeline subsidiary to an affiliated partnership for $865 million. Chesapeake Midstream Partners L.P. will buy Appalachia Midstream Services, owner of 47 percent of a 200-mile gathering system in the Marcellus Shale, according to a statement Wednesday. The system transports more than one billion cubic feet a day and has 15-year contracts with gas producers. Chesapeake Energy is the largest gas producer in the Marcellus formation and holds the most acreage in the region. - Bloomberg News

Coal-fired power plant to go with gas

A north-central Pennsylvania coal-fired power plant that is one of the nation's oldest could be burning natural gas by 2015, part of a wider shift happening across the United States. Ed Griegel, vice president of operations for the Sunbury power plant, said the move was being driven by toughening federal pollution standards and the high cost of burning coal, the Daily Item of Sunbury reported Wednesday. Plant owner Sunbury Generation L.P. plans to close five of its six coal-fired generators and replace them with two natural gas-fired turbines. The plant began operating in 1949. - AP


Italy borrows for less at auction

 Italy's  short-term borrowing costs were halved Wednesday at an auction of government bills, easing the immediate pressure on the country's economy. Nine billion euros, or $11.8 billion, of six-month Treasury bills were sold at a yield of 3.251 percent, down sharply from 6.504 percent at an auction in late November. Demand was 1.7 times the amount offered, compared with 1.47 times previously. In an auction of two-year bonds, which raised 1.7 billion euros, the yield fell to 4.853 percent from 7.814 percent last month. The auctions raised a total 10.7 billion euros.

- New York Times News Service

Madoff's son loses a round

Bernard Madoff's son Andrew must submit to a bankruptcy judge's decision to permit a $198 million lawsuit to go forward because he sought that court's protection when he filed a claim against his father's estate, U.S. District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan said in a written opinion filed Wednesday. Last week, Pauley declined to hear an appeal of the September decision in favor of Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities L.L.C. in his claim against Madoff family members, including Andrew Madoff and the estate of Mark Madoff. In court papers filed in his own behalf and as executor of his late brother's estate, Andrew Madoff said the judge's decision would result in a "massive expansion of liability" for managers of banks and large corporations for the wrongs of individual units. - Bloomberg News

Review sought of Web-suffixes plans

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) has asked federal officials to seek a review of plans to add hundreds of Web suffixes beyond .com and .org. The expansion by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers could cost "millions of dollars" as companies and groups buy domain names they won't use to prevent others from abusing their brands, Rockefeller said in a letter to Commerce Secretary John Bryson. Icann, which manages the Web's address system under a Commerce Department contract, approved a plan in June to expand the number of top-level domains to spur online innovation. Applications cost $185,000 for each domain. - Bloomberg News

Foreign tourists spent big in October

International tourists continue to spend record amounts in the United States and are on pace to top the previous annual high mark, set in 2008, according to new data from the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. A monthly report by the agency said international visitors spent $13.1 billion on travel to the United States and tourism-related activities while here in October, a 13 percent increase over the same month last year. Foreign visitors spent $127 billion here in the first 10 months of 2011, and the agency predicted spending would surpass $152 billion for 2011, up from the record of $141 billion in 2008. - Los Angeles Times

Shopping boosts gasoline demand

U.S. gasoline demand rose 7.7 percent last week from the prior week, boosted by holiday shoppers, according to MasterCard Inc. Drivers bought 9.46 million barrels of gasoline a day in the week ended Dec. 23, up from 8.78 million the week before, according to MasterCard Inc.'s SpendingPulse report. Gasoline consumption in 2011 through Dec. 23 is down 1.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the second-biggest payments network company. - Bloomberg News