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Apple OKs e-book penalty

Thu., July 17, 2014, midnight

Los Angeles – Apple Inc. has agreed to pay $400 million to settle allegations that the company conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices.

The settlement agreement, which still requires court approval, is contingent on Apple’s appeal of the New York federal court’s 2013 finding that the company worked with five major book publishers to artificially raise e-book prices.

If the federal court ruling is not successfully appealed, Apple will make $400 million in payments to consumers, according to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by 33 states and territories. If the court reverses or changes its decision, Apple will be out much less money and consumers could get nothing.

Nevertheless, New York state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman touted the settlement Wednesday as a major victory for consumers.

China’s growth edges up

BEIJING – China’s economic growth edged up in the latest quarter and more than 7 million new jobs were created in the first half of the year, easing pressure on communist leaders as they try to prevent a precipitous slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Economic growth rose to 7.5 percent over a year earlier in the three months ended June 30 from the previous quarter’s 7.4 percent, data showed Wednesday. The first quarter matched a downturn in late 2012 for the slowest rate since the 2008 global crisis.

Communist leaders are trying to steer China toward growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment. But the unexpectedly sharp slowdown raised fears of politically dangerous job losses. Beijing responded with ministimulus measures based on higher spending on construction of railways and other public works.

Litigation costs hit BofA

NEW YORK – Bank of America said Wednesday its second-quarter earnings were hit by higher litigation expenses.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank earned $2 billion in the second quarter after payments to preferred shareholders, compared with $3.6 billion in the same period a year earlier, a decline of 43 percent. Revenue fell 4 percent to $21.9 billion from $22.9 billion.

Per share, the bank’s earnings worked out to 19 cents, compared with 32 cents a year ago.

The bank’s litigation costs of $4 billion crimped earnings by 22 cents a share.

Homebuilder confidence up

U.S. homebuilders’ confidence in the housing market surged this month to the highest level since January, reflecting a pickup in sales of new homes and heightened expectations for sales in the second half of the year.

The brighter sales outlook suggests home construction could pick up in coming months after a sluggish start this year.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Wednesday rose this month to 53, up four points from a revised reading of 49 in June.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor. The latest reading is the first above 50 since January, when it was 56.


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