Business news in brief
In the Region
Caesars gets Web permits
Caesars Entertainment Corp., which owns four casinos in Atlantic City, received permits Wednesday from New Jersey casino regulators to participate in the "soft" launch Thursday of Internet gaming. Out of the gate, the Las Vegas company plans to offer Internet gaming through two of the properties, Bally's Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City, said spokesman Seth Palansky. "We appreciate the licensing today by the Casino Control Commission and are excited to launch Caesars Casino.com, HarrahsCasino.com, and WSOP.com to those inside New Jersey's borders," Palansky said. Caesars also owns Harrah's and Showboat in Atlantic City and Harrah's Philadelphia in Chester. - Harold Brubaker
Holiday travel likely to dip
About 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home for the Thanksgiving holiday, a decrease of 1.5 percent from last year, according to projections by AAA. The small decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving's four-year peak, which followed the recession- driven declines in 2008-09, when Thanksgiving travel fell 25 percent, said the nation's largest automobile club. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday to Dec. 1. - Linda Lloyd
Dropping health benefits?
Nearly a third of small employers will drop their health benefits within five years, according to a survey released Wednesday by Mercer, a benefits consultant. With the Affordable Care Act's requiring all individuals to obtain health insurance, employers expect to cover more dependents. In response, some companies plan to limit costs by charging more for dependents or eliminating them from their plans. Nationally, costs for health benefits rose a modest 2.1 percent in 2013, averaging $10,779 per employee. They are expected to rise 8 percent in 2014 for the same plans, but to 5.2 percent with plan changes. - Jane M. Von Bergen
Higher home prices ahead
Toll Bros. Inc., the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, has room to raise prices on its houses as the real estate market extends its recovery, said chief executive officer Douglas Yearley Jr. Buyers are acquiring properties "sight unseen" in New York, and demand is strong on the coasts, Texas, and in suburban Detroit, Yearley said Wednesday. "We have plenty of room," he said, to raise prices. - Bloomberg News
Mass. casino proposal rejected
A casino proposal in Massachusetts, backed by a Penn National Gaming Inc. spin-off, was rejected Tuesday by voters. Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc., based in Wyomissing, Pa., signed a letter of intent last week to finance the proposed $1 billion Foxwoods Casino in Milford.
- Harold Brubaker
Hill seeks Center City digs
Hill International Inc., the Marlton-based multinational construction-consulting company, is seeking a new headquarters in Center City, said David Richter, president and chief operating officer of the 4,000-employee company. "There are better buildings and a better labor pool" in Philadelphia compared with Marlton, Richter said. While Hill already leases a Philadelphia office in the Graham Building on 15th Street south of City Hall, Richter said, the company's longtime real estate agent, Anne Klein of Newmark, Grubb, Knight, Frank, is seeking a larger, 60,000- to 70,000-square- foot space to accommodate at least 200 people. - Joseph N. DiStefano
Inventories up in Sept.
U.S. businesses increased stockpiles in September by the largest amount in eight months, while sales posted a modest gain. The Commerce Department says business inventories rose 0.6 percent in September compared with August. Sales rose 0.2 percent. A big jump in restocking helped drive faster economic growth from July through September. But there is concern that a pullback in inventory rebuilding will dampen growth in the current quarter. Rising stockpiles boost growth because they mean more factory production. - Associated Press
Drop in gas prices at an end
Rising demand and diminishing supply are halting a slide in U.S. gasoline pump prices toward $3 a gallon, a level last breached three years ago. Average retail prices fell Nov. 11 to a 33-month low of $3.179, then rebounded Tuesday to $3.212, according to AAA. Michael Green, a Washington-based spokesman for the motoring group, said Tuesday that prices may rise above $3.25. A week earlier, he saw a possible dip to as low as $3 by mid- December. "It's still relatively cheap," he said, "but we expect prices may rise slightly the next couple of weeks before falling again as refineries come off maintenance and increase gasoline production."
- Associated Press