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Business news in brief

In the Region

Fed sees economy improving

A Federal Reserve survey indicates that the economy kept expanding in all regions of the country in June and early July, helped by strength in consumer spending. All 12 of the Fed's regions reported growth, with five - New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco - characterizing growth as "moderate" while the others, including Philadelphia, reported "modest" growth. Boston and Richmond, Va., reported growth came in at a slightly slower pace. The Fed's survey, known as the Beige Book, will be used by central bank officials when they next meet July 29-30 to review interest-rate policies. The Fed's Philadelphia region covers central and eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and Delaware. - AP

Pa. credit rating under review

Pennsylvania legislators broke for the summer without addressing pension costs that will rise by 38 percent to $65 billion in 2018. They may return to find a cut to the state's credit rating. Standard & Poor's will decide in the next few months whether to lower Pennsylvania's AA rating, the third-highest level of investment grade, based on its handling of finances and pensions, analyst John Sugden in New York said. Fitch Ratings is considering a similar move, with a cut "certainly more likely than not," said Eric Kim, a director at the company, which also grades Pennsylvania AA with a negative outlook. A ratings cut may result in higher borrowing costs for the state. - Bloomberg News

Pa. looking at drill complaints

Pennsylvania Health Secretary Michael Wolf said his department's experts were responding to health complaints related to natural-gas drilling but said there was no quick and easy way to answer questions about the issue. Wolf said the department was working to conduct research with other public and private partners, such as hospitals. He said that he had not spoken directly to Gov. Corbett about possible health impacts from the drilling boom, only to Corbett's staff, and that the department didn't ask the legislature for additional money this year to study the issue, which critics have called for. Wolf's Department of Health predecessor, Eli Avila, said last week that the state had failed to seriously study the potential health effects of drilling. - AP

Lannett gets Conn. subpoena

Shares of the Philadelphia pharmaceutical-maker Lannett Co. Inc. sank $8.05, or 17.1 percent, to $39.04 after the company said it had received a subpoena from the Connecticut Attorney General's Office in connection with an antitrust investigation of possible price fixing for the drug digoxin, a treatment for congestive heart failure. Lannett said in a statement that it "acted in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations" and would cooperate with the investigation. - Inquirer staff

Realty trust sets share price

Apartment owner Independence Realty Trust Inc., of Philadelphia, said late Tuesday that it priced a public offering of seven million shares at $9.50 per share, for gross proceeds of about $66.5 million. The offer is expected to close Monday, the company said. The company intends to use proceeds to buy apartment properties and for general corporate purposes. RAIT Financial Trust is purchasing 300,000 of the offered shares. Independence is advised by a subsidiary of RAIT. Independence shares on the New York Stock Exchange closed Wednesday at $9.74, up 4 cents. - Reid Kanaley

$11.6M for 'mi-eye' maker

Safeguard Scientifics, of Wayne, has joined Michigan-based Biostar Ventures and other investors pumping $11.6 million into Trice Medical, a King of Prussia company that makes "mi-eye," a mini-camera and light mounted on a 14-gauge needle - the kind used in vaccinations - and wired to an Android tablet. Trice CEO Jeffrey F. O'Donnell Sr., a La Salle grad, said the mi-eye could be used to probe hips and shoulders, "averting the need for an expensive MRI." - Joseph N. DiStefano


Action sought on 'inversions'

The Obama administration is urging Congress to act swiftly to curtail a growing trend in which U.S. corporations reorganize overseas with foreign entities in part to trim their tax bills at home. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told House and Senate leaders in a letter that such deals, known as inversions, "hollow out the U.S. corporate income tax base," and that Congress should immediately enact legislation retroactive to May that stops the practice. A total of 47 U.S.-based companies have combined with foreign businesses over the last decade in inversions, according to the Congressional Research Service. - AP

AIG to see $650M in settlement

American International Group Inc., the largest commercial insurer in the United States and Canada, will get at least $650 million in a settlement with Bank of America Corp. as the second-biggest U.S. bank seeks to end liability for faulty mortgages. The deal covers home loans on which the insurer took losses and also entitles it to a share of what Bank of America pays to investors as part of a Countrywide repurchase settlement, New York-based AIG said. - Bloomberg News