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Five more states to get federal mortgage relief

The Obama administration on Monday announced $600 million in financial support for five more states with high unemployment that have been slammed by the housing bust. Ohio got the largest share of funding, at $172 million, followed by North Carolina at $159 million and South Carolina at $138 million. Oregon and Rhode Island are due to receive $88 million and $43 million respectively. The money will be given to state housing finance agencies, which will design mortgage assistance programs that meet broad criteria provided by the Treasury Department.

Former IBM exec pleads guilty to insider trading

A former IBM senior executive pleaded guilty on Monday to federal charges arising from what prosecutors call the largest insider trading case in hedge fund history. Robert Moffat, 53, of Ridgefield, Conn., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and securities fraud. Moffat, who remains free on $2 million bail, is the 11th of 21 people arrested to plead guilty.

Consumer spending rises for fifth consecutive month

The Commerce Department reported Monday that consumers boosted their spending by 0.3 percent in February. That was a tad slower than the 0.4 percent increase registered in January and marked the smallest increase since September. Still, it marked the fifth straight month that consumer spending rose. Americans' incomes, however, didn't budge. They were flat in February, following a solid 0.3 percent gain in January.

Greece news, optimism send major indexes higher

Consumers more willing to spend made investors more optimistic about the economy Monday. Meanwhile, easing concern about debt problems in Greece reduced demand for the safety of the dollar. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 45.50 points, or 0.4 percent, to 10,895.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 6.73, or 0.6 percent, to 1,173.22, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 9.23, or 0.4 percent, to 2,404.36.

Antitrust official visits dairy farmers in Batavia

The nation's top federal antitrust investigator Monday assured desperate dairy farmers that the government also wants to know why they are being paid so little for milk when the price shoppers pay in stores is holding steady. At the invitation of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney met with milk producers from around the state, who blame a lack of competition among milk processors on years of industry consolidation. A report released by Schumer's office in November found that the price paid to dairy farmers fell by almost half since January 2009. At the same time, the retail price of milk fell just 15 percent.From wire reports

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