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Justice Department joins fraud lawsuit against Oracle Corp.

The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday it is joining a fraud lawsuit against California-based Oracle Corp. related to software contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The agency said Oracle failed to offer government customers the same discounts on its software that it offered commercial customers, as it was required to do. As a result, the lawsuit alleges, Oracle overcharged the government on a contract that ran from 1998 to 2006. An Oracle executive filed the original suit in May 2007 under the False Claims Act. Oracle did not immediately return messages seeking comment.


FTC cracks down on fees from debt settlement companies

Companies that promise to reduce or eliminate credit card balances and other debt for customers will no longer be allowed to charge an upfront fee. The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that debt settlement companies will now only be able to charge a fee once a customer's debt has been reduced, settled or renegotiated. The rule goes into effect Oct. 27.


Fed official suggests reviving deflation control policies

The Federal Reserve should revive a crisis-era program to buy government debt if the country seems headed toward a bout with deflation, a Fed official said Thursday. James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, worries that the United States could tip into a Japanese-like bout of deflation, a widespread and prolonged drop in prices of goods, values of homes and stocks, and in wages.


Jobless report disappoints; stocks dip in uneasy trading

Stocks ended an erratic day with a modest loss yesterday as investors tried to reconcile another batch of conflicting economic signals. The Labor Department said initial claims for unemployment benefits dropped by a modest 11,000 to 457,000 last week. Investors were disappointed because the drop was so small. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.72 points, or 0.3 percent, to 10,467.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.60, or 0.4 percent, to 1,101.53. The Nasdaq composite index fell 12.87, or 0.6 percent, to 2,251.69.

Wire reports

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