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  • Cautious shopping ahead
    Falling gas prices. Soaring stock market. Unemployment at a six-year low.All signs point to a successful holiday shopping season.
  • Midwest leads rise in home sales
    WASHINGTON – Sales of new U.S. homes edged up modestly in October, led by a big jump in activity in the Midwest.New home sales advanced 0.
  • Growth in durable-goods orders meager
    WASHINGTON – Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in October, but a key category that tracks business investment plans declined sharply for a second straight month.

Internet firm wins funds suit

Bluffton-based OnlyInternet Broadband & Wireless announced that the Federal Communications Commission sided with the company in denying government funds to one of its competitors.

OnlyInternet, through its parent company Great American Broadband, challenged Frontier Communication Corp.’s application to receive a grant from the Connect America Fund, a program designed to help expand broadband Internet service into rural areas. The first phase of the program provides up to $115 million in public funding.

Since OnlyInternet already provides broadband Internet in that area, it filed a challenge with the FCC and won.

JC Penney plans to close 33 stores

Struggling department-store operator J.C. Penney will cut 2,000 jobs and close 33 stores – including stores in Warsaw and Marion – as it tries to get back on the path to profitability.

The news raises concerns that Penney’s holiday season sales were not what the company hoped for and that the chain needs to do even more to recover from a turnaround plan that has had disastrous results.

J.C. Penney Co., based in Plano, Texas, said this month it was pleased with its holiday results but declined to give sales figures, raising worries among Wall Street analysts about how the season actually fared.

The cuts announced Wednesday should save more than $65 million annually. The company will take $26 million in pretax charges in the third quarter and $17 million in future quarters. Penney has 116,000 staffers and operates more than 1,100 stores. All the job cuts are related to the store closings.

Stutzman applauds Volcker Rule change

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said Wednesday that banking regulators’ decision to reverse course on a provision of the Volcker Rule “is a victory for common sense.”

Five regulatory agencies a day earlier quashed the proposal, which would have required banks to divest themselves of investments in collateralized debt obligations.

“This rule would have saddled Hoosier institutions with nearly $60 million in needless losses,” said Stutzman, a member of House Financial Services.

Stutzman and other critics of the provision, including the American Bankers Association, have complained that the provision would have hurt community banks. The Volcker Rule was intended to deter high-risk investments by Wall Street banks.

Wal-Mart faces labor charges

Federal officials have filed a formal complaint charging that Wal-Mart violated the rights of protesting and striking workers last year.

The National Labor Relations Board says Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees in 14 states for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions.

The labor board’s general counsel laid out the charges in November but held off on filing a complaint while trying to work out a settlement with Wal-Mart. The company has insisted its actions were legal and justified.

The complaint will go before an administrative law judge. If Wal-Mart is found liable, it could be required to award workers back pay, reinstate former workers and reverse any disciplinary action.