China stalls on net filter requirement

In a rare reversal, China’s government gave in to domestic and international pressure and backed down Tuesday from a rule that would have required personal computers sold in the country to have Internet-filtering software. Just hours before the rule was to have taken effect, the government said it would postpone the requirement for the “Green Dam” software. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said it made the decision partly because some PC markets were having difficulty meeting the deadline. It did not say whether the plan might be revived.

Wal-Mart endorses worker health care

Wal-Mart, a huge company once criticized for less than generous employee benefits, has embraced President Barack Obama’s call for requiring all large employers to offer health insurance to their workers. The move, joined by a major labor union that sometimes assails Wal-Mart, could add momentum to Obama’s push for far-reaching changes to the nation’s health care system, which Congress is weighing. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, announced its position in a letter to congressional and administration officials Tuesday. “We are for an employer mandate which is fair and broad in its coverage,” the letter said. “Any alternative to an employer mandate should not create barriers to hiring entry-level employees.”

Drop in home prices slowed during April

There is a clear trend home prices declines are moderating — another sign the beleaguered housing market is stabilizing, according to data released Tuesday. While the Standard &Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 major cities tumbled by 18.1 percent in April from the year before, it marked the third straight month the decline was not a record. And yearly losses in 13 metros improved compared to March. “The stock market bottomed in March and measures of consumer confidence have turned upward. This report shows that these better spirits are also appearing in the housing market,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee. But rising foreclosures fueled by layoffs could derail a meaningful turnaround.

Obama seeks new consumer agency

The Obama administration sent Congress legislation Tuesday to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would be designed to protect Americans from unscrupulous practices and to make financial products easier to understand. The 152-page draft bill would create a five-member board to run the agency with four members nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The fifth member of the panel would be the director of the new National Bank Supervisor, the merged agency the administration is proposing to create to take over all bank regulation duties.

From Herald news services

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