4 pols join collider funding call; other business briefs

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LONG ISLAND


4 pols join collider funding call

Four members of Long Island's congressional delegation have joined the push to increase federal science funding to keep Brookhaven National Laboratory's ion collider from closing. Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Peter T. King (R-Seaford), Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) signed a letter asking the White House budget office to increase the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear physics program by $50 million, echoing a request made Monday by New York's Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. The push for increased funding comes after a scientific advisory committee ranked Brookhaven's atom smasher last among three projects vying for funding before potential federal budget cuts. If Washington doesn't boost nuclear research funding, the Upton facility, which supports about 800 jobs, could be shuttered. -- Joe Ryan


NATION


Service-sector growth slows

Growth at U.S. service companies slowed slightly in January behind weaker new orders and business activity. But hiring improved, a bright sign for the economy. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday its index of nonmanufacturing activity dipped to 55.2 in January. That's down from 55.7 in December, which was the highest level in nearly a year. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion. The modest decline from December's strong reading suggests the industry was not greatly hampered by an increase in Social Security taxes that reduced take-home pay for most Americans. Companies didn't single out the rise in payroll taxes in the survey, Anthony Nieves, chair of the ISM's survey committee, said during a conference call with reporters. The report measures growth in industries that cover 90 percent of the workforce, including retail, construction, health care and financial services.


Panera Bread profit up 34%

Higher prices and better sales of Panera Bread's more profitable menu items lifted the soup and sandwich chain's profit 34 percent in the October-December quarter. Panera said revenue from restaurants open at least a year, a key retail metric, rose 5.1 percent in locations the company owns and 4.7 percent in franchised locations, because of higher customer checks. The number of purchases fell slightly because of superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast on Oct. 29, the company said. Shares gained $6.58, or 4 percent, to $168.55 in after-hours trading. Panera Bread Co. owns 809 bakery-cafes, and there are also 843 franchised Paneras.


WORLD


Keyboard BlackBerry in May?

The new BlackBerry with a physical keyboard might not arrive in the United States until May or June. The exact release date will depend on each wireless provider, but BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said the BlackBerry Q10 will likely be released eight to 10 weeks after a carrier releases the Z10, the new model with only a touch screen. The Z10 is expected in the United States in mid-March.


BP profit tumbles 80 percent

Oil and gas giant BP's profit fell nearly 80 percent in the fourth quarter in results released Tuesday, dragged down by payouts related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. BP said net profit fell to $1.62 billion in the quarter ended on Dec. 31, down from $7.69 billion in the same period the year before. BP took a loss of $3.85 billion for its settlement of all federal criminal charges with the U.S. government. The company's settlement with the U.S. Justice Department shut the book on the criminal probe of BP's role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster and Gulf oil spill, but civil claims remain. The London-based oil giant could pay billions more in damages for the spill. -- AP

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