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PRESS DIGEST- New York Times business news - Oct 24

Oct 24 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the New York Times business pages. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Bank of America, one of the nation's largest banks, was found liable on Wednesday of having sold defective mortgages, a jury decision that will be seen as a victory for the government in its aggressive effort to hold banks accountable for their role in the housing crisis. ()

* Prosecutors are said to be considering criminal penalties against JPMorgan over its dealings with Bernard Madoff, suspecting it turned a blind eye to his Ponzi scheme. ()

* As technical failures bedevil the rollout of President Obama's health care law, evidence is emerging that one of the program's loftiest goals - to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low - is falling short for many rural Americans. ()

* The legal battle over Detroit's eligibility for bankruptcy pits the city against unions and retirees, with a star witness, Governor Rick Snyder of Michigan, to come. ()

* Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday proposed a spending plan for his city next year that is full of nips and tucks: a 75 cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax, higher zoning permit fees for big developments, an end to some retirees' health insurance subsidies and a rolling hiring freeze. ()

* Pinterest confirmed on Wednesday that it has raised $225 million in a new round of financing that values the company at $3.8 billion. ()

* To help finance the expansion into America, British peer-to-peer lender Funding Circle, has raised $37 million from investors led by the venture capital firm Accel Partners. ()

* A decision by a federal appeals court has ended Delaware's experiment with confidential arbitration. In an opinion released Wednesday, a three-judge panel for the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that Delaware's state-sponsored arbitration program violated the First Amendment. ()

* Two of Caterpillar's biggest-ever deals may have played a role in the $3 billion of market value that the company's stock shed on Wednesday morning. The maker of heavy equipment disclosed that its third-quarter profit tumbled 44 percent from the same time last year, while revenue fell more than 18 percent for the same period. ()

* Properties and Cole Real Estate Investments, two of the largest commercial property owners in the country, have agreed to a $7.2 billion deal on Wednesday in which American Realty will buy Cole with a mix of cash and stock, bringing an end to tensions between the companies that have simmered much of the last year. ()