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Source : AP
Last Updated: Mon, Jan 07, 2013 23:30 hrs

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10 banks agree to pay $8.5 billion for foreclosure abuse

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ten major banks agreed Monday to pay $8.5 billion to settle federal complaints that they wrongfully foreclosed on homeowners who should have been allowed to stay in their homes.

The banks, which include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, will pay billions to homeowners to end a review process of foreclosure files required under a 2011 enforcement action. The review was ordered because banks mishandled people's paperwork and skipped required steps in the foreclosure process.

The settlement was announced jointly by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve.

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Bank of America in mortgage claims settlement

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America reached an $11.6 billion settlement with government mortgage agency Fannie Mae to settle claims resulting from mortgage-backed investments that soured during the housing crash, bringing it a step closer to clearing up its legacy of bad home loans.

Under the deal announced Monday, Bank of America will pay $3.6 billion in cash to Fannie Mae and buy back $6.75 billion in loans that the bank and its Countrywide Financial unit sold to the agency from Jan. 1, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2008. That includes about 30,000 loans. The bank is also paying $1.3 billion to the agency for failing to deal with foreclosures fast enough.

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Google executive chairman arrives in North Korea

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Google's chairman wants a firsthand look at North Korea's economy and social media landscape during a private visit Monday to the communist nation, his delegation said, despite misgivings in Washington over the timing of the trip.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of one of the world's biggest Internet companies, is the highest-profile U.S. executive to visit North Korea — a country with notoriously restrictive online policies — since Kim Jong Un came to power a year ago. His visit has drawn criticism from the State Department because it comes only weeks after a controversial North Korean rocket launch; it has also prompted speculation about what the businessman hopes to accomplish.

Schmidt arrived on a commercial Air China flight with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has traveled more than a half dozen times to North Korea over the past 20 years.

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CES unveils big TVs with 'ultrahigh definition'

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The race to make TVs larger and larger has created a colossal problem for manufacturers: As screens grow, picture quality worsens — unless the viewer moves farther away from the screen.

The issue is playing out in cozy dens and family rooms around the world. To get the full benefit of a large high-definition screen, viewers must move back from their sets. Since the ideal viewing distance is no closer than three times the height of your screen, or about one and a half times the diagonal length, big TVs have literally forced many families' backs against the wall.

This year, TV makers are doing their best to give huge-screen fanatics more breathing room. New "ultrahigh-definition" sets were shown off Monday by companies such as LG and Sharp at the International CES gadget show in Las Vegas, with other makers set to follow suit. Consumers tend to buy a new set every seven years or so, and television manufacturers are hoping the technology will give consumers a reason to upgrade.

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'The Walking Dead' was 2012's top-selling comic

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Stilted gaits and mindless shambling did nothing to stop demand for Image Comics' "The Walking Dead," with the 100th issue of Robert Kirkman's acclaimed series garnering the top spot as 2012's top-selling comic book.

"The Walking Dead," published by Image Comics, led the annual list of top-selling comics compiled by Diamond Comic Distributors, the Baltimore company that distributes comics, graphic novels and pop-culture merchandise worldwide.

The series' 100th issue was published in July and has been gaining new readers, thanks in part to the ongoing television series of the same name that runs on IFC. In the issue, Kirkman shocked longtime readers by graphically killing off a key character, a development that saw the book sell out and go through three printings because of demand.

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High court hears dispute over class actions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday questioned efforts by consumers' lawyers to limit the amount of money sought in class-action lawsuits so they are heard in state courts rather than more business-friendly federal court.

The justices appeared receptive to an insurance company's argument that lawyers artificially lower the amount of money at stake to keep the lawsuits in state courts, which often favor plaintiffs. The Standard Fire Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn., says the tactic drags out lawsuits and makes fighting them so expensive that companies would rather settle.

The case involves a 2005 federal law that allows defendants to transfer class actions involving more than $5 million to federal court.

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Government to require electric cars to make noise

DETROIT (AP) — A government safety agency wants electric and hybrid vehicles to make more noise when traveling at low speeds so pedestrians can hear them coming.

The cars and trucks, which are far quieter than conventional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, don't make enough noise at low speeds to warn walkers, bicyclists and the visually impaired, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday in a statement.

The proposed rule would require the cars to make additional noise at speeds under 18 miles per hour. NHTSA says the cars make enough noise to be heard at higher speeds.

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Citigroup names Forese, Medina-Mora co-presidents

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup's new CEO is continuing to put his imprint on the bank, naming co-presidents on Monday.

CEO Michael Corbat tapped Jamie Forese and Manuel Medina-Mora for the roles.

Corbat took over as CEO of the New York company in October after Vikram Pandit unexpectedly stepped down from the post. Pandit had reportedly clashed with the board over the company's strategy and its relationship with the government.

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Apple says more than 40 billion apps have been downloaded

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple says people have downloaded more than 40 billion apps for the iPhone, iPad and the iPod Touch, nearly half of them in 2012.

Apple Inc. said Monday that December saw record downloads of more than 2 billion apps. There are 775,000 individual applications available in the app store. Apple says it has paid app developers more than $7 billion.

Apple launched its app store in 2008. The store hit the 10 billion downloads mark in early 2011. In March 2012 Apple announced that more than 25 billion apps had been downloaded.

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McDonald's expands test flight for chicken wings

NEW YORK (AP) — First there were McNuggets. Then there were Chicken McBites. Now McDonald's could be adding "Mighty Wings" to its chicken menu.

The world's biggest hamburger chain is set to expand its test of chicken wings to Chicago this week, after a successful run in Atlanta last year. The wings are being sold in servings of three, five or 10 pieces with prices starting at $3, according to Lynne Collier, an analyst with Sterne Agee.

A spokeswoman for McDonald's confirmed the test in Chicago would start this week at about 500 restaurants but said there weren't any plans yet to bring the wings to other cities. She noted that no new sauces were being offered with the wings and that the creamy ranch sauce would be the default dipping sauce.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 50.92 points to 13,384.29, while the Nasdaq composite dropped 2.85 points to 3,098.81. The S&P 500 fell 4.58 points to close at 1,461.89.

Benchmark crude rose 10 cents to finish at $93.19 a barrel in New York. Brent crude rose 9 cents to end at $111.40 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline added 1 cent to finish at $2.78 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 cent to end at $3.03 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 2 cents to finish at $3.27 per 1,000 cubic feet.


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