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In brief

Gas price below 2007

The retail price for regular unleaded gasoline in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area on Wednesday fell below the year earlier level according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The $2.87 per gallon price was 29 percent below the peak of $4.06 on July 17.

Gambling levels off

Gambling held steady at both Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and Mount Airy Casino Resort in the week of Oct. 13-19. Wagers of just over $46 million at the Plains Township casino were nearly identical to the prior week and 11 percent higher than the comparable week in 2007. Gamblers fed $53.1 million into slot machines at Mount Airy, about $1 million less than the week before.

Mount Airy opened a year ago Wednesday, depressing Mohegan Sun’s wagers by about 15 percent. Since then the local casino opened its larger permanent facility with about 2,500 slots, matching Mount Airy’s total.

AIG freezes bonuses

Financially troubled American International Group, now supported by a federal bailout, has agreed to freeze millions of dollars in compensation and bonuses for former executives.

The insurance and finance giant agreed to stop payments under former chief executive Martin Sullivan’s $19 million pay package. AIG also confirmed that no payments will be made from the $600 million compensation and bonus pools of its Financial Products subsidiary, including $69 million the former head of the subsidiary, Joseph Casano, could have been paid.

Drugmaker profits decline

Drugmakers Merck & Co., Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline PLC all posted lower profits for the third quarter on Wednesday, partly due to the intensifying generic competition weighing on the entire pharmaceutical industry.

In what it characterized as an advance strike to counteract that and other problems, Merck said it will slash about 7,200 jobs, or nearly 13 percent of its workforce.

Helicopter buy delayed

The Air Force said Wednesday it needs more time to pick a contractor to replace an aging fleet of 141 combat search-and-rescue helicopters used to scoop up troops often stuck behind enemy lines.

Boeing Co. won the initial $15 billion contract, but the program has been on hold for two years after Lockheed Martin Corp. and United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft challenged the deal.

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