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SEATTLE

Microsoft unveils test version of Internet Explorer 9 browser

Microsoft Corp. unveiled the “beta” test version of Internet Explorer 9 on Wednesday, the first of a new generation of Web browser programs that tap into the powerful processors on board newer computers to make websites load and run faster.

Internet Explorer 9, which is free, also arrives with a stripped-down look and a few new tricks that start to blur the distinction between a website and a traditional desktop application.

Following the lead of Google Inc.’s stripped-down Chrome browser, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 comes with far fewer buttons, icons and toolbars cluttering up the top of the screen. Its frame is translucent, and as people browse the Web, Internet Explorer 9 can be subtly adorned with small icons and signature colors of the websites being viewed.

Chambers push for passage
of Small Business Jobs Act

Local chambers of commerce joined forces Wednesday to push for the quick passage of the Small Business Jobs Act.

At a joint news conference, the Las Vegas, Henderson, Urban, Asian and Latin chambers of commerce called on Congress to pass the bill, which gives tax breaks to small businesses, increases U.S. Small Business Administration loan limits and extends the elimination of loan fees.

Las Vegas Chamber President Matt Crosson said Southern Nevada’s small businesses desperately need the incentives and access to capital the bill promises.

“Economic recovery depends on upon small businesses getting the help they need to survive, grow and create jobs,” he said.

Crosson said he hoped Congress will pass the act before it recesses. The bill passed a key Senate vote Wednesday. A final Senate vote is expected by the end of the week.

WASHINGTON

U.S. factory output up for 12th time in 14 months in August

Production at U.S. factories grew in August for the 12th time in 14 months, but at a slower rate than earlier this year as consumers spent cautiously.

Overall output at the nation’s factories, mines and utilities edged up 0.2 percent last month, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. It rose 0.6 percent in July.

Production gains at factories, the largest single element of industrial production, slowed to 0.2 percent after rising 0.7 percent in July. Much of the softness came from a decline in auto production, which spiked in July. Excluding autos, manufacturing output rose 0.5 percent. Production rose for consumer goods such as food, clothing and paper by more than 1 percent.

WASHINGTON

Official says large banks should help bail out Fannie, Freddie

The nation’s largest banks have an obligation to pay some of the cost for bailing out mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because they sold them bad mortgages, a government regulator said Wednesday.

Edward DeMarco, the acting director for the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said the banks this summer have refused to take back $11 billion in bad loans sold to the two government-controlled companies, in written testimony submitted for a House subcommittee hearing Wednesday. A third of those requests have been outstanding for at least three months.

DeMarco said the banks have a legal obligation to buy back the loans and called the delays “a significant concern.” He said the government may take new steps to force those buybacks if “discussions do not yield reasonable outcomes soon.”

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