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GE to settle charges it paid kickbacks to Saddam's Iraq

General Electric Co. will pay $23.4 million to settle federal charges that some of its subsidiaries paid illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's government to win contracts under a United Nations program. The Securities and Exchange Commission says the kickbacks were in return for contracts to supply medical and water purification equipment under the UNs' oil-for-food program, which provided humanitarian aid to prewar Iraq.

Obama administration to hold Freddie, Fannie conference

The Obama administration, which has been under fire for not developing a concrete plan for mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, says it will hold a conference Aug. 17 at the Treasury Department to discuss their future. So far, stabilizing the pair of mortgage buyers, which own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, has cost taxpayers $145 billion.

Univision to settle payola case

Univision Communications Inc. has agreed to pay $1 million to settle allegations that the company's radio stations and its employees accepted secret cash payments to give more frequent airplay to artists with a former Univision recording label. The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department announced separate settlements of the payola - or pay-for-play - charges with the Spanish-language media company late Monday.

Pessimism halts market rally

News that consumers are more pessimistic saw some stocks fall modestly Tuesday after three days of big gains. The Dow rose 12.26 points, or 0.1 percent, to 10,537.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.17, or 0.1 percent, to 1,113.84, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 8.18, or 0.4 percent, to 2,288.25.

Home values slightly up in May

Nationally, home values rose 1.3 percent in May from April, according to the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index released Tuesday. And 19 of 20 cities showed month-over-month price gains. Prices have moved up 4.6 percent in the past year, the data showed, the highest rate since August 2006. Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, said housing is healthier in big cities in the Northeast and on the West Coast because they have limited land for construction and better local economies. Most economists don't expect the price increases to last through the year.

- Wire reports


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