Area jobs scarcer

Unemployment rates declined last month in more than half of the 372 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, further evidence of steady improvement in the job market. They rose in Atlantic, Cumberland and Cape May counties, which with rates of 12 to 13 percent had the highest unemployment in the Northeast region.

U.S. bars BP

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The Obama administration put a stop to new federal contracts with BP on Wednesday, admonishing the British oil company involved in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico for a “lack of business integrity” and also disqualifying it for an unspecified time from winning new leases to drill on taxpayer-owned lands. BP’s September contracts with the Defense Department to provide $1.4 billion in fuel products and any others already signed with U.S. agencies will remain in effect.

Wynn in Mass.

Las Vegas gambling mogul Steve Wynn has met with Everett, Mass., Mayor Carlo DeMaria to discuss developing a casino in that city. Wynn said he’d like to move ahead if residents in the Boston suburb are open to the idea.

Miss. casinos down

Mississippi casinos stumbled through their worst revenue month since September 1998 in October, with gamblers losing 8 percent less than in October 2011. Statewide casino revenue fell to $167.4 million, according to Mississippi Department of Revenue figures.

New home sales down

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new-home sales dipped 0.3 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 368,000. September’s rate of 389,000 was revised downward to 369,000.

Two-track Europe

The European Union’s executive wants to allow the 17 member states that use the euro currency to move faster toward economic integration than the broader 27-nation EU. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso claimed that more integration and centralization of decision-making in Brussels, at the expense of sovereign power of the national capitals, is necessary to overcome the economic crisis.

Green bankruptcy

Government attorneys say failed electric car battery maker A123 Systems Inc. needs the government’s consent in order to sell its assets. The Department of Energy gave the bankrupt Waltham, Mass., company a $249 million grant three years ago.

Allstate loss $1B

The Allstate Corp. estimated it had $1.08 billion in catastrophe losses in October, mostly the result of damage to homes and autos from Hurricane Sandy. Allstate said that about 66 percent of its losses were in New York, 20 percent in New Jersey and 14 percent in other states.

Spain bank bailout

European Union authorities have approved the payment of $48 billion in bailout loans to four of Spain’s struggling banks — provided each of them cut their loans and investments by 60 percent. Under the plan, the four banks must exit from lending to real estate development, limit their presence in wholesale business and concentrate on retail loans and those to small and medium-sized companies in their base regions.

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