Stony Brook campus hotel opens; other business briefs

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LONG ISLAND


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Stony Brook campus hotel open

A new Hilton Garden Inn has opened for business on the Stony Brook University campus. The 135-room hotel, operated by a franchisee, stands on 3.5 acres leased from the university. It has 35 employees now, and expects to hire about 15 more as business grows, said general manager William Gomez. Gomez said about 10 rooms were occupied Tuesday, and there are already more than 200 reservations for March. The hotel -- the fifth Hilton Garden Inn on Long Island -- was initially met with opposition, as the Stony Brook Environmental Conservancy filed a lawsuit against the State University of New York to void the lease, claiming the project would harm the local ecosystem and destroy a salamander habitat. The lawsuit was dismissed by a Suffolk County judge. -- Lisa Du


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Sandy deadline extended again

Business owners affected by superstorm Sandy have until March 29 to apply for low-interest loans from the federal government, after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday the deadline for Sandy victims to register for assistance had been extended. The deadline had already been pushed back twice. Last week, the Small Business Administration said it had approved more than $1 billion in low-interest loans to homeowners and business owners affected by Sandy in New York State. Long Islanders received more than half of the total loan amount, having been approved for roughly $566 million in loans. -- Lisa Du

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Cablevision suing Viacom

Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp. said it has sued Viacom, arguing that the operator of pay-TV networks such as Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central is "illegally forcing" it to carry and pay for 14 channels that aren't watched very much. Cablevision, which owns Newsday, said it filed the antitrust lawsuit in federal court Tuesday in Manhattan under seal, meaning it's not publicly available. Cablevision said the way Viacom sells programming is illegal and bad for consumers. It said that if it refused to take the lesser-watched channels, it would have to pay massive penalties. Among the channels Cablevision doesn't want are Nick Jr., Nicktoons, VH1 Classic and CMT. Cablevision said it's asking the court to void its December 2012 deal with Manhattan-based Viacom. Responding in a statement, Viacom Inc. said it provides a discount to TV distributors who take more channels.


NATION


Confidence rises, just not a lot

Americans seem to be more confident in the economy than they have been in the past few months. But that doesn't mean they're willing to spend more money. Consumer confidence rebounded in February, reversing three months of declines, according to The Conference Board, a private research group. But analysts say that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to be more likely to open up their wallets. "Consumers are feeling better, but they don't feel a whole lot better," said Mark Vitner, an economist at Wells Fargo. The Conference Board's index was 69.6, up from 58.4 in January but still well below the 90 reading that indicates a healthy economy.


U.S. bank profits rise 37 percent

Profits at U.S. banks jumped almost 37 percent for the October-December period, reaching the highest level for a fourth quarter in six years as banks continued to step up lending. The figures are fresh evidence of the industry's sustained recovery more than four years after the financial crisis. Banks earned $34.7 billion in the last three months of 2012, up from $25.4 billion a year ago, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported Tuesday. Sixty percent of banks reported improved earnings from the fourth quarter of 2011, the agency said. The number of banks on the agency's "problem" list fell to 651 from 694. -- AP

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