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Probe finds tax credits went to prison inmates

A government investigator said nearly 1,300 prison inmates wrongly received more than $9 million in tax credits for home buyers despite being incarcerated when they reportedly bought a home. In all, the Treasury Department estimated that more than 14,100 taxpayers wrongly received at least $26.7 million in homebuyer tax credits.

Mortgage applications decline by 5.9 percent

Mortgage applications volume dropped off by 5.9 percent last week even as mortgage rates decreased, a sign the housing market is struggling without government incentives, according to a report Wednesday from the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinancing activity fell 7.3 percent from the previous week. Mortgage rates recently have been near historic lows.

Survey: Women grads expecting to earn less

For the second consecutive year, the gap in expected earnings has widened between female and male college graduates, according to a survey conducted by Duquesne University researchers. The 2010 Collegiate Seniors' Economic Expectation Research Survey showed that while the overall economic expectation index for all graduates has risen, gaps continue. Sixty percent of the females surveyed expected to earn $30,000 or less in their first year after graduation, compared with only 27 percent of males.

Earnings

• Drugstore operator Rite Aid Corp. said it reduced its losses in the fiscal first quarter as it cut back on selling, general and administrative costs. The Camp Hill, Pa., chain lost $73.7 million, or 9 cents per share, in the quarter ended May 29, vs. $98.4 million, or 11 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts expected a loss of 14 cents per share.

• CarMax, the Richmond, Va., used car dealership chain said Wednesday that net income climbed to $101.1 million, or 44 cents per share, in the three months ended May 31, up from $28.7 million, or 13 cents per share, a year ago.

Also in business ...

The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at area pumps Wednesday was $2.778, a jump of more than 8 cents over a week ago. A month ago, the average price was $2.825. ... Contracts for future construction in the Pittsburgh region edged up 5 percent in May, McGraw-Hill Construction reported. The value of contracts was $167.3 million compared with $159.5 million a year ago. For the year to date, contracts fell by 14 percent to $675.5 million from a value of $784.1 million in the first five months of 2009. ... Peoples Natural Gas donated $360,000 to the Dollar Energy Fund as part of a three-year, $1.9 million program to assist the utility's low-income customers.



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