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Judge says will accept SAC Capital guilty plea

SAC guilty pleaA federal judge agreed to accept SAC Capital Advisors' guilty plea to fraud charges in the U.S. government's insider trading case against the hedge fund firm controlled by billionaire Steven A. Cohen.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said she will accept the plea at a Thursday hearing in Manhattan federal court.  She is also expected to decide at the hearing whether to accept SAC Capital's agreement to pay a $900 million fine in its settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, as part of an overall $1.8 billion payout to resolve criminal and civil litigation.

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U.S. Obama signs executive order on equal pay for women

equal pay for equal workKeeping with his promise to champion women’s rights in the workplace, President Barack Obama signed an executive order Tuesday that addresses the issue of unequal pay among federal contractors. While equal-pay advocates hail the move as a victory, many also say it doesn’t go far enough.

The executive order addresses the federal government’s gender wage gap by mandating that contractors publish wage data — by gender and race — to ensure compliance with equal-pay laws. The order also prohibits contractors from retaliating against employees who compare salaries.

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SEC Goldman Lawyer Says Agency Too Timid on Wall Street Misdeeds

SECA trial attorney from the Securities and Exchange Commission said his bosses were too “tentative and fearful” to bring many Wall Street leaders to heel after the 2008 credit crisis, echoing the regulator’s outside critics.

James Kidney, who joined the SEC in 1986 and retired this month, offered the critique in a speech at his goodbye party. His remarks hit home with many in the crowd of SEC lawyers and alumni thanks to a part of his resume not publicly known: He had campaigned internally to bring charges against more executives in the agency’s 2010 case against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)

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U.S. stock markets are rigged, says author Michael Lewis

stock market riggedThe U.S. stock market is rigged in favor of high-speed electronic trading firms, which use their advantages to extract billions from investors, according to Michael Lewis, author of a new book on the topic, "Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt."

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a practice carried out by many banks and proprietary trading firms using sophisticated computer programs to send gobs of orders into the market, executing a small portion of them when opportunities arise to capitalize on price imbalances, or to make markets. HFT makes up more than half of all U.S. trading volume.

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Forget about the "1%." Top "0.1% pulling ahead more

wealthiest americansThe "top 1%" might be the primary target of the masses' ire and envy, but it's actually the top 0.1% who are grabbing a bigger slice of wealth.

The average household in the top 1% pulled in earnings of $1,264,065 in 2012, according to a just-released analysis by investment firm Sadoff Investment Research. That's 41 times greater than the $30,997 average income of Americans.

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Bank Of America To Pay $9 Billion To Settle Mortgage Securities Suit

bank of americaHere’s a story that’s starting to sound weirdly familiar: Bank of America Corp. just agreed to pay $9.5 billion to settle U.S. claims linked to mortgages sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from 2005 to 2007. The deal, which roughly $6.3 billion in cash to end legal claims and an agreement to buy back $3.2 billion worth of mortgage-backed bonds, might seem like a landmark … if it was not so similar to multi-billion dollar agreements Bank of America signed in 2011 and 2013.

The 2013 deal, signed that January, also involved paying $3.6 billion in cash and buying back mortgages with billions of dollars in outstanding principal. At the time, Bank of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan called the 2013 agreements “a significant step in resolving our remaining legacy mortgage issues.” One analyst told Bloomberg that the deal would let Bank of America put its Fannie and Freddie issues behind it.

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Walgreens to shutter 76 unprofitable locations

WalgreensWalgreen, the nation's largest drugstore chain, has decided to shutter 76 unprofitable stores by August but hasn't specified the locations.

The Deerfield, Ill.-based company announced Tuesday that the store closings were part of a plan to save between $40 million and $50 million. While no specific locations were targeted, it was specified that closings would be spread across the country. Walgreens said it would confirm the closings after notifying their employes.

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