Financial
U.S. sales of new homes up in January PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 12:22

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of new homes rebounded in January to the fastest pace in more than five years, offering hopes that housing could be regaining momentum after a slowdown last year caused by rising interest rates.

Sales of new homes increased 9.6 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. That was the fastest pace since July 2008.

The rise came as a surprise to economists who had been forecasting a sales drop in January, in part because of a belief that activity would be held back by bad winter storms in many parts of the country.

Sales had fallen 3.8 percent in December and 1.8 percent in November, leading to worries that the housing recovery could be losing momentum.

The big January gain was likely to ease those concerns. Many economists believe sales of both new and previously occupied homes will rise in 2014, helped by an improving economy and job gains which will boost the number of people working.

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28 new indictments in N.Y. Social Security disability fraud case PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 07:08

NEW YORK (AP) — A sprawling criminal case accusing more than 100 retired firefighters, police officers, jail guards and others of scamming the Social Security disability system ensnared 28 more people with charges Tuesday, including sons of some alleged ringleaders.

The case already involved 106 people and $22 million in what the Manhattan district attorney's office says were ill-gotten psychiatric disability benefits. Prosecutors had estimated, when unveiling the case last month, that it ultimately could encompass hundreds of people and as much as $400 million.

"These defendants are accused of gaming the system by lying about their lifestyle," DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said in a statement Tuesday. "Their lies were repetitive and extensive."

The retirees are accused of falsely claiming they had depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychological problems so crushing they couldn't work. Many recipients were advised to link their supposed symptoms to 9/11, prosecutors say.

Yet some led lives that baldly contradicted their claims -- running a martial-arts studio, flying helicopters, traveling overseas, and more, according to prosecutors.

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U.S. bank earnings rise 17 pct. as loan losses fall PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 12:21

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. banks' earnings rose 17 percent in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, as losses on loans fell to a seven-year low and banks set aside less to cover losses as well as legal costs.

The data provides fresh evidence of the banking industry's sustained recovery more than five years after the financial crisis struck. Still, the government says banks continue to have difficulty increasing revenues, and are relying on setting aside less for loan losses to boost earnings.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported Wednesday that the banking industry earned $40.3 billion in the final quarter of 2013, up from $34.4 billion in the same period in 2012.

For all of 2013, bank earnings increased 9.6 percent to what the agency calls a record annual level of $154.7 billion. It exceeded the previous record earnings of $145.2 billion in 2006.

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Apple files appeal in e-book antitrust case PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 07:06

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple filed papers on Tuesday telling a federal appeals court in New York that a judge's finding it violated antitrust laws by manipulating electronic book prices "is a radical departure" from modern antitrust law that will "chill competition and harm consumers" if allowed to stand.

Apple filed its formal written arguments before the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking the appeals court to overturn the judgment in Apple's favor, or grant a new trial in front of a different judge.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote concluded last year that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company colluded with book publishers in 2010 to raise electronic book prices. She appointed Washington lawyer Michael Bromwich as monitor for two years after concluding Apple was not doing enough to ensure it no longer violated antitrust laws.

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