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Business

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    Peoples Bancorp today reported fiscal 2014 earnings of $3.4 million, or $1.47 per diluted common share, a 30 percent increase from the $2.6 million, or $1.11 a share, posted for the previous 12 months.
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Briefs

Hedge fund fined record $1.8 billion

The once high-flying hedge fund SAC Capital was sentenced on criminal fraud charges Thursday under a $1.8 billion deal that prosecutors say included the largest criminal fine ever imposed in an insider trading case.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan formally administered the sentence on Stamford, Conn.-based SAC Capital LP and three related entities based on pleas last fall by the companies to wire fraud and securities fraud.

“These crimes clearly were motivated by greed,” the judge said.

The judge said nearly $400 million earned illegally by one of the companies was a “staggering amount” reflecting a corrupt corporate culture

Representing the companies, longtime SAC general counsel Peter Nussbaum told Swain the companies “accept responsibility for the misconduct of our employees.”

Family Dollar to shut 370 troubled stores

Dollar stores are feeling the pinch from mounting financial pressures on low-income shoppers.

Family Dollar said Thursday that will cut jobs and close about 370 underperforming stores as it tries to reverse sagging sales and earnings. The discount store operator will also permanently lower prices on about 1,000 basic items.

Family Dollar Inc., which operates 8,100 stores, did not provide details on how many jobs it would cut.

The retail chain follows competitors in highlighting the split between shoppers who are enjoying an improving economy and those being left behind.

Jobless aid requests retreat to 7-year low

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest level in almost seven years, falling 32,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 300,000.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 4,750 to 316,250.

Fewer Americans sought benefits last week than at any point since the recession began at the end of 2007.

On-time airline rate takes hit in February

The bad news for travelers is that U.S. airlines posted terrible on-time numbers and record cancellations in February, as winter storms fouled operations at several large airports.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported Thursday that only 70.7 percent of domestic flights arrived within 14 minutes of schedule – that’s the leeway allowed while still being counted as on-time.

The on-time rate fell sharply from the 79.6 percent in February 2013 but was better than January 2014’s 67.7 percent mark.

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