Ups and downs

DOWN to US Airways’ $1.7 billion loss reported for fiscal 2002. The airline’s brass insists it will emerge from bankruptcy, but the downward passenger trend doesn’t bode well for the ailing carrier. Still, US Airways ordered 29 new jets to upgrade its fleet, a sign of confidence in its future.

UP to Akustica Inc.’s $2.25 million in venture funding that follows a $2.25 million round in October by private investors. As private investors have been saying, their money attracts attention from the VCs.

DOWN to the seven-year high of the jobless rate reported for December. The one bright spot was a slight rise in manufacturing employment, to 132,300 jobs.

UP to the sale of Sengstacke Enterprises Inc., the parent company of the New Pittsburgh Courier, to Real Times Inc. of Chicago. A promised infusion of capital and resources into the storied Pittsburgh newspaper that’s been a stalwart in the African American community will no doubt raise its stature and ensure its survival in a competitive media market.

UP to Hartman Products LP, Product Soft and Atritech Inc., winners in the first round of the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Enterprize competition. Each received a $2,000 award.

DOWN to Sony Technology Center-Pittsburgh’s layoff of approximately 1,000 workers because of slow holiday sales and fat inventories at its retail customers’ facilities. Sony’s role as a key economic generator in Western Pennsylvania makes the furloughs that much more chilling.

UP to Kmart’s decision to close only two of its stores in the Pittsburgh region. Stores in Duquesne and Richland Township will be shuttered, but about 20 area Kmart stores will remain open.

UP to the new David L. Lawrence Convention Center’s strong record of bookings for 2003. Even with a shortage of hotel space, the center has scheduled 27 meetings for the year, beating its own projections. That’s up from the 19 the center booked in 2000, the last year the former convention facility was fully operational.

UP to Scozio Supermarkets Group’s plan to open its fourth Festival Foods store at a former PharMor location in McIntyre Square.