Protest targets Verizon contract

About 50 members of the Communications Workers of America protested in Rittenhouse Square over stalled contract talks with Verizon Communications Inc. The current contract expired last August. The hour-long protest at noon by the union's Local 13000 was timed to coincide with Verizon's annual meeting in Huntsville, Ala., and the local Verizon workers targeted the home of Joseph Neubauer, a Verizon director. "Progress toward a new contract can only be achieved in engagement at the bargaining table, not union rallies," said Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski. — Bob Fernandez

Magazine rates PHL as third-worst

Philadelphia International Airport has been rated the third-worst out of the nation's 22 top airports by Travel and Leisure magazine.LaGuardia (LGA) and Los Angeles International (LAX) are ranked as the worst and second-worst airports, respectively, by the magazine, which said the list came from a survey of readers but did not say how many readers took part or how the survey was conducted. Travel + Leisure singled out PHLfor a lousy design and lack of cleanliness (20th), surly staff (20th), and long check-in and security lines (20th). The only thing worse is waiting for your bags, ranked 21st in efficiency (make that inefficiency). That its location came in at 13th is not much consolation. Following behind PHL were New York's JFK Airport and Newark (EWR). The top three airports in the best list are Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), Charlotte (CLT) and Detroit Metropolitan (DTW). — Joseph A. Gambardello

Efficiency group shortens its name

The Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings (GPIC), the federally funded Navy Yard organization whose mission is to transform the building-retrofit industry, has rebranded itself less than two years after its founding. GPIC is now the Energy Efficient Buildings Hub. EEB Hub, which is funded with $130 million over five years, also launched a new website: "We are very excited about our new name and market-facing website and feel that we will now be able to more efficiently communicate our strategic vision and the ways in which a variety of stakeholders can engage in our work," Christine Knapp, the organization's spokeswoman, said in a news release. — Andrew Maykuth

Passenger traffic up for US Airways

US Airways Group Inc. reported increased passenger traffic for April and the first four months of the year, compared with the same periods a year earlier. The airline, which carries about 65 percent of all passengers at Philadelphia International Airport, reported 5.2 billion revenue passenger miles, up 2.1 percent for April, and 20.1 billion revenue passenger miles, up 4.4 percent, for the year to date. — Paul Nussbaum

American Water buys three Pa. systems

Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water Works Co. Inc. of Voorhees, purchased three water systems in Northeastern Pennsylvania for $215,000. The "tuck-in" acquisitions, which tie about 500 people into adjacent Pennsylvania American operations, including the Lake Spangenberg Water Co. and the Applewood Water Co. in Lackawanna County and the Wildcat Park Corp. in Schuylkill County. — Andrew Maykuth

SBA event on federal procurement

The U.S. Small Business Administration will host a matchmaking event on May 22 in Washington to give small businesses the opportunity to explore possible procurement opportunities with major corporations and federal agencies. Each session, part of National Small Business Week, will last 15 minutes. Workshops will also be held on such topics as marketing to the federal government. Interested businesses must register by May 18 at — Diane Mastrull

Health-insurance store opening in N.J.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey said it will open the state's first health insurance retail center this summer in Moorestown's East Gate Square Shopping Center. The center will have staff trained to help customers with their health insurance needs and to assist them in purchasing health insurance products and services. Blue Cross companies in Pennsylvania, Florida, California and South Carolina have opened similar stores, according to Horizon. Highmark, for example, Pennsylvania's largest insurer, has eight Highmark Direct locations in the state. Independence Blue Cross provides some similar services through a walk-in center at 19th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, a spokeswoman said. — Harold Brubaker


Facebook sets IPO price range

Facebook Inc. set a price range of $28 to $35 for its initial public offering of stock. At the high end, this could raise as much as $11.8 billion. If the underwriters sell the extra stock reserved for overallotments, the IPO will value Facebook at $79.3 billion at the high end of the price range. That's much higher than any other Internet IPO in the past, even Google Inc. in 2004, which raised $1.9 billion. The range came in a regulatory filing. — AP

Borrowing is harder for small business

Commercial lending standards have tightened in the last year for small businesses and scuttled a major portion of contracted transactions for smaller properties, the National Association of Realtors reported. "There have been notable improvements in capital for large commercial transactions valued at $2.5 million or higher, but there remain significant challenges for small business," said Realtors' chief economist Lawrence Yun. According to Real Capital Analytics, more than 13,000 major properties valued at $2.5 million or higher traded hands in 2011. Sales volume increased 51 percent over 2010 to $205.8 billion, with the largest share of lending funds coming from big banks. Other funding sources include insurance companies and institutional investors. — Alan J. Heavens

Yahoo CEO accused of lying

A major Yahoo Inc. shareholder, hoping to shake up Yahoo's board, accused the company's CEO of lying about his credentials. Activist hedge fund Daniel Loeb says he has discovered that CEO Scott Thompson doesn't have a bachelor's degree in computer science from Stonehill College near Boston as the company states in regulatory documents filed last week. Yahoo confirmed Loeb's findings, but the company attributed the misinformation to an "inadvertent error." — AP

Mortgage rates fall

Thirty-year fixed-interest mortgage rates continued to slide, falling to 3.84 percent from 3.88 percent last week, Freddie Mac reported. The 15-year rate was 3.07 percent, down from 3.12 percent last week. "Signs of slowing economic growth and inflation remaining subdued allowed yields on Treasury bonds to ease somewhat and brought most mortgage rates to new all-time record lows this week," said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. — Alan J. Heavens