PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Feb 27

Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:33am EST

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Feb 27 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* New York's financial regulator is probing mortgage-servicing firm Ocwen Financial Corp's relationships with several businesses, saying that borrowers may be harmed because of the companies' close ties. ()

* The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services Inc on Wednesday claiming the company engaged in predatory lending by pushing its students into high-cost private loans likely to default. ()

* The Obama administration has asked a special surveillance court for approval to retain records of millions of Americans' phone calls stored by the National Security Agency - an unintended consequence of lawsuits seeking to stop the data-surveillance program. ()

* Verizon Communications Inc is investigating possible security breaches at two unnamed retailers that appear similar to intrusions at other merchants late last year. ()

* A record $14 million whistleblower award paid by the Securities and Exchange Commission last year was for a tip about an alleged Chicago-based scheme to defraud foreign investors seeking U.S. residency, according to people familiar with the payment. ()

* China's central bank engineered the recent decline in the country's currency as part of its efforts to prepare the tightly tethered yuan for wider trading, according to people familiar with the central bank's thinking. ()

* Oil Search Ltd said it would raise $1.09 billion to fund the purchase of stakes in two large natural gas discoveries in Papua New Guinea, boosting its bets on an impoverished country soon to join the ranks of global gas producers. ()

* Data released Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp shows that the outstanding balance on loans for land acquisition, development and construction rose in the fourth quarter to $209.9 billion, compared with $206 billion in the third quarter. While that is a relatively small gain, economists note that if the overall balance is growing it means that originations of new loans are likely rising even faster. It was the third consecutive quarter of growth. ()

* Sales of new homes surged unexpectedly in January, easing concerns about a deeper housing-sector slowdown. ()

* Boeing Co filed plans this week with the Federal Communications Commission for a smartphone dubbed Boeing Black, which is designed for defense and security customers and won't be available to average consumers. ()

* Electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc said on Wednesday its proposed battery "Gigafactory" would cost up to $5 billion and allow it to sell as many as 500,000 vehicles a year.

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