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Business briefs

  • July 3, 2013 - 7:55 PM

Court backs borrowers against Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo & Co. must face borrowers’ claims that it violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act by starting foreclosure proceedings while the customers were making payments under a loan-modification agreement. The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday reinstated the claims of John and Carol Schlegel, who received default notices after the bank told them to proceed with payments under a loan-modification plan and failed to respond to their inquiry seeking an explanation. The bank’s action, the court found, constituted a revocation of credit without notice required under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which makes it illegal for creditors to discriminate against applicants and requires them to provide an explanation within 30 days when denying or revoking credit or changing credit terms.

U.S. trade deficit rises unexpectedly in May

The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly jumped in May as imports climbed to the second-highest level on record, pointing to an economy that is overcoming higher taxes and government cutbacks. The gap widened by 12.1 percent to $45 billion, the biggest since November, from $40.1 billion in April, Commerce Department figures showed. Purchases of cellular phones, automobiles and fuel produced overseas add to signs demand from American consumers and businesses is picking up heading into the second half of the year. The report also showed exports stagnated, reflecting slack global growth as markets from China to Europe struggle to gain momentum.

Deal looks to bring Apple TV to Time Warner

Apple is nearing a deal with Time Warner Cable to give subscribers of the cable television service access to channels via Apple TV, people with knowledge of the negotiations said. The companies plan to announce an agreement within a few months, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The iPhone maker is also hiring Pete Distad from online-video service Hulu, where he was senior vice president in charge of marketing and distribution, to help Apple executives in negotiations with media and cable companies, two people with familiar with the matter said.

Olympus fraud leads to fines, sentences for 3

Former Olympus Corp. Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa received a suspended sentence for his role in a $1.7 billion accounting fraud that caused the Japanese camera maker’s market value to plunge 80 percent. Olympus, also the world’s largest maker of endoscopes, was ordered to pay 700 million yen, or $7 million, in fines by Tokyo District Judge Hiroaki Saito Wednesday. Former Olympus Executive Vice President Hisashi Mori and Hideo Yamada, a former auditing officer, also got suspended sentences.

Swiss ready a path to turn over banking data

The Swiss government said it had found a way to allow the country’s banks to turn over data to the United States despite strict banking secrecy laws, potentially opening the way for hundreds of lenders to end the threat of criminal prosecution by the Justice Department in Washington. The governing Federal Council said in a statement that banks wishing to hand over information would be able to seek authorization from the Swiss government on an individual basis, “within the scope of existing law and particularly data protection and employment law provisions.”The central government’s plan is needed to address the vacuum left after Parliament adjourned for the summer without having approved an information-sharing agreement with the United States.

Chinese looking into price-fixing for formula

The Chinese government is investigating possible price fixing by foreign companies that produce infant milk powder for Chinese consumers, according to reports this week by the state news media. Targets of the investigation include some of the largest foreign producers, including Nestlé of Switzerland, Danone of France and Mead Johnson Nutrition of the United States. The Xinhua state news agency said that the foreign companies “are believed to have manipulated and raised the price of baby formula in the China market.” The companies also are suspected of retaliating against sellers in China who refused to raise their prices, including imposing fines, halting the supply of the products and reducing available rebates, Xinhua added.

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