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Briefs

Joblessness easing for Ohio areas

Unemployment in the four Ohio counties bordering northeast Indiana – Defiance, Paulding, Van Wert and Williams – remains lower than in many other counties in the state.

Only Defiance saw the jobless rate rise in December with a 6.6 percent rate, compared with 6.5 percent in November. The rate in the other counties was unchanged. Paulding had a jobless rate of 6.2 percent; Van Wert, 7 percent; and Williams, 6.8 percent. Pike County in south central Ohio had the state’s highest unemployment in December with 12.2 percent jobless.

A year ago during the same period, the jobless rate in Defiance County was 7.8 percent; Paulding, 7.4 percent; Van Wert, 8.2 percent; and Williams, 8.8 percent.

Verizon boosts lead but posts record loss

Verizon strengthened its position as the top dog of the wireless industry in its latest quarter by raking in new subscribers and selling millions of iPhones. It also posted a record loss.

The loss of $4.23 billion, or $1.48 a share, for the fourth quarter was mainly because of adjustments to the value of its pension funds and obligations, an annual routine for Verizon Communications Inc.

But even excluding the pension effects, the New York-based phone company missed Wall Street’s earnings expectations when reporting Tuesday because of the cost of repairs after Superstorm Sandy and aggressive advertising and price cuts on smartphones.

Verizon’s loss for the October-to-December period compared with a loss of $2.02 billion, or 71 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding the pension adjustments and various other charges, Verizon earned 38 cents a share.

AT&T to buy Alltel in $780 million deal

AT&T Inc. said Tuesday that it has reached a deal to buy remnants of the Alltel wireless network for about $780 million to boost its spectrum holdings in rural areas.

The company is buying the licenses, retail stores and network assets, along with about 585,000 subscribers, from Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. The news sent Atlantic’s shares up $4.73, or 12 percent, to $44.10 in late trading. AT&T shares added 30 cents to $33.74.

The network, operated under the Alltel brand, covers about 4.6 million people in mainly rural areas across six states – Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. It generated revenue of about $350 million for the first nine months of 2012.

Alltel was a wireless network that operated in 34 states until it was bought by Verizon Wireless in 2009.

Norfolk Southern tops profit forecast

Norfolk Southern Corp., the second-largest U.S. eastern railroad, posted a fourth-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates as container-car shipments curbed the effects of falling coal revenue.

Net income dropped 14 percent to $413 million, or $1.30 a share, from $480 million, or $1.42 a share, a year earlier, the company said.

Earnings at Norfolk Southern, which generates 31 percent of its 2011 revenue from coal, has been pressured as utilities switch to cheaper natural gas and the European economic slump trims metallurgical exports.

Coal cargo at the largest North American rail carriers fell about 14 percent in the quarter, and 11 percent at Norfolk Southern.

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