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Business news in brief

In the Region

Center sets union deadline

Leaders of the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority set a deadline of a minute before midnight Monday for trade unions to agree to new work rules allowing exhibitors to do more of their own work on shows at the center. "We have anticipated and are preparing for a range of outcomes, but prefer a cooperative path," wrote center Chairman Gregory J. Fox, president John J. McNichol, and Bob McClintock, chief operating officer of facilities manager SMG, in an open letter. They added that last week's brief strike by Carpenters Local 8 against the center created "far-reaching and quantifiable" damage to the center's business, and has resulted in competitors trying to take shows away from Philadelphia. The ultimatum is the center's response. - Joseph N. DiStefano

Exelon on top after merger

Exelon Corp. would become the nation's largest electric utility company if its proposed merger with Pepco Holdings Corp. goes through, according to a ranking provided Monday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Exelon, the parent company of Peco Energy Co. in Philadelphia, would have 8.6 million electric customers nationwide after the merger with Pepco, which operates utilities in the District of Columbia, South Jersey, and Delaware. Duke Energy Corp. would rank second with 7.2 million customers, followed by First Energy Corp. with 6 million, American Electric Power Co. Inc. with 5.3 million, and PG&E Corp. in northern California with 5.1 million. Exelon, which is holding its annual meeting Tuesday in Philadelphia, announced the $6.8 billion merger plan with Pepco last week. - Andrew Maykuth

US Airways adds flights

US Airways will add two routes this fall from Philadelphia International Airport, to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Fort Wayne, Ind. US Airways Express, now a subsidiary of American Airlines Group, will have two daily nonstop flights starting Sept. 3 to Grand Rapids, and two daily nonstops beginning Oct. 2 to Fort Wayne. As part of the merger of US Airways and American, the airlines said they remain committed to expanding service for "our customers in small- and medium-size markets." - Linda Loyd


Gasoline prices to fall

The annual spring gasoline price run-up may have hit its peak. Analysts for GasBuddy believe that Americans will be paying three to 10 cents less per gallon when Memorial Day arrives, now that all U.S. distribution terminals have transitioned from "winter" to "summer" grades of gasoline, and refinery maintenance has been completed. Gasoline prices have run up about 35 cents in recent months, hitting their peak of $3.66 per gallon nationally on April 29, GasBuddy reported. - Andrew Maykuth

Vehicle emissions hit low

Harmful emissions from U.S. vehicles dropped to a record low in February, on an individual driver basis, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reported. The average buyer's new vehicle produced 23 percent fewer emissions in December 2013 than in October 2007, the institute said. The institute's "eco-driving index" measures both vehicle fuel economy and the distance driven. Improving fuel efficiency and a decline in miles driven have helped reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the report said. - Paul Nussbaum

GM engineering exec leaves

Another General Motors Co. engineering executive is retiring in the wake of the automaker's mishandled recall of small cars. GM said Jim Federico elected to retire after 36 years with the company. Federico was in charge of vehicle performance and safety leading up to the company's February recall of 2.6 million older-model small cars for defective ignition switches. He was also the chief engineer for global small cars starting in 2010, and may have known about ongoing internal investigations into the switches. Congress, the Justice Department and others are investigating why GM took more than a decade to recall the cars after finding problems with the switches. - AP

Pepsi, Coke to cut ingredient

PepsiCo joined Coca-Cola in saying it's working to remove a controversial ingredient from all its drinks, including Mountain Dew. Brominated vegetable oil was the target of petitions by a Mississippi teenager who wanted it out of Gatorade and Powerade. The petition noted that the ingredient has been patented as a flame retardant and is not approved for use in Japan and the European Union. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have stood by the safety of the ingredient. - AP

EU says economy recovering

The ongoing economic recovery across Europe should help unemployment fall faster than previously expected, according to a new European Union forecast. The EU said the economic recovery is spreading across the 28-country bloc and should help reduce the ranks of the 25.7 million unemployed. Among the 18 EU countries sharing the euro currency, the EU says, unemployment should drop to 11.8 percent this year and 11.4 percent in 2015. - AP