CONSUMER PROTECTION

Watchdog delays new prepaid card rules

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday said it will delay, by one year, implementation of new rules for prepaid payment cards and add more flexibility to the rules to address industry concerns.

The move comes as the CFPB's acting director, White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, overhauls the agency's approach and mission.

Consumers uploaded $65 billion to prepaid cards in 2013, up from nearly $1 billion a decade earlier, the CFPB said. By 2020, consumers are projected to hold prepaid cards worth $116 billion, the agency said.

Consumer advocates argue that the market has been lightly regulated and offers few protections for consumers, particularly for victims of fraud. The CFPB finalized rules last year that require companies to clearly disclose any fees and cooperate with consumers who discover unauthorized charges or errors in their accounts.

The industry complained that the rule was too broad and could leave them on the hook for fraudulent losses.

Now, the CFPB says it will give the industry more flexibility on cards linked to digital wallets, such as PayPal and Google Wallet. It will also give prepaid card providers more time to investigate fraud claims before refunding money. The CFPB said the rules will go into effect in April 2019.

— Renae Merle

RETAIL

Walmart cuts up to

500 headquarter jobs

Walmart is cutting 400 to 500 jobs at its headquarters, the latest effort to streamline a retail empire facing tough competition.

The layoffs will hit the company's marketing, human resources, merchandising, real estate, logistics and finance divisions, the Bentonville, Ark., chain said. Walmart said it is informing most of those affected on Thursday, and they will have 60 days to find a new role.

This month, Walmart also shut 63 Sam's Club warehouses.

— Bloomberg News

HOUSING

New-home sales fall 9.3% in December

Americans cut back their purchases of new homes in December as sales fell from November's 10-year high.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that new-home sales skidded 9.3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 625,000. It was the biggest drop since August 2016. November sales were revised lower — to 689,000 from 733,000 — but were still the strongest since October 2007.

Sales are volatile from month to month, but 2017 was a strong year: New-home sales rose 14.1 percent from December 2016.

The median price of a new home hit a record $335,400 in December, up 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

— Associated Press

Also in Business

Robinhood Financial, which makes a popular free stock-trading app, is getting into cryptocurrency. Digital currency trading marks the first paid product, other than trading on margin, for Robinhood, which made a name for itself by letting anyone buy and sell small amounts of stock without fees. The firm said it will charge only for cryptocurrency transactions to recoup the costs associated with trading the assets and won't take a commission. It said it will roll out the option gradually.

A company is recalling 3,420 pounds of its frozen meatballs that are distributed throughout the South because of listeria concerns. Rich Products warned consumers not to eat Casa Di Bertacchi Italian Style Beef Meatballs if the packages have a "best-use" date of December 2018 and include the numbered code 15507351. The meatballs were shipped to Texas, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Colorado is welcoming this year's Outdoor Retailer and Snow Show, a multimillion-dollar gathering of outdoor industry brands and retailers. The show debuted Thursday in Denver after a high-profile departure from its home in Salt Lake City in a dispute over preserving public lands. Organizers have criticized President Trump's decision to shrink two national monuments in Utah, a move backed by some Utah politicians. Outdoor industry leaders say preserving public lands is vital to their trade.

— From news services

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases fourth-quarter gross domestic product.

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases durable goods for December.