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House votes to repeal Dodd-Frank provision

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives, with bipartisan support, passed legislation Wednesday that would roll back a major element of the 2010 law intended to strengthen the nation’s financial regulations by allowing big banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase to continue to handle most types of derivatives trades in house. The bill, which passed by a 292-122 vote, would repeal a requirement in the Dodd-Frank law that big banks “push out” some derivatives trading into separate units that are not backed by the government’s insurance fund.

But the debate Wednesday regarding this decidedly technical matter quickly turned into a dispute over the role the federal government has played since the recession in regulating financial markets. Advocates of the legislation argued on the House floor that the federal government was partly responsible for the slow rate of economic growth because it imposed excessive new regulations.

“America’s economy remains stuck in the slowest, weakest nonrecovery recovery of all times,” said Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. “Those who create jobs for America are drowning in a sea of red tape preventing them.”

But opponents of the measure said that reckless activity by banks like JPMorgan Chase, where a group of traders in London ran up $6 billion in losses in 2011, demonstrate that the tough requirements contained in the Dodd-Frank law, passed in 2010, should not be weakened.

“It is clear that Wall Street has not learned its lesson,” Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., said during the debate. “This bill would effectively gut important financial reforms and put taxpayers potentially on the hook for big banks’ risky behavior.”

With Wednesday’s vote, the House has passed eight bills this year that would roll back provisions of Dodd-Frank.

—Eric Lipton, The New York Times

Council approves raising age to buy cigarettes to 21

NEW YORK — Buying cigarettes in New York City is about to become a lot harder for young people, as lawmakers on Wednesday adopted the strictest limits on tobacco purchases of any major American city.

The legal age for buying tobacco, including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars and cigarillos will rise to 21, from 18, under a bill adopted by the City Council and which Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said he would sign. The new minimum age will take effect six months after signing.

The proposal provoked some protest among people who pointed out that New Yorkers under 21 can drive, vote and fight in wars, and should be considered mature enough to decide whether to buy cigarettes. But the Bloomberg administration’s argument — that raising the age to buy cigarettes would discourage people from becoming addicted in the first place — won the day.

“This is literally legislation that will save lives,” Christine C. Quinn, the council speaker, said shortly before the bill passed 35-10.

In pushing the bill, city officials said that the earlier people began smoking, the more likely they were to become addicted. And they pointed out that while the youth smoking rate in the city has declined by more than half since the beginning of the mayor’s administration, to 8.5 percent in 2007 from 17.6 percent in 2001, it has recently stalled.

The new law is a capstone to more than a decade of efforts by Bloomberg, like banning smoking in most public places, that have given the city some of the toughest anti-smoking policies in the world.

—Anemona Hartocollis, The New York Times

Times Co. reports quarterly loss after sale of Globe

The New York Times Co. reported Thursday a net loss in the third quarter, attributable in large part, the company said, to the sale of the New England Media Group, which included The Boston Globe. Digital subscription gains helped produce a slight increase in overall revenue.

The Times Co. said it had a loss of $24 million, a sharp drop-off from the same period a year earlier, when the company posted a $2.7 million gain. The loss is equal to about 16 cents a share, compared with a gain of 2 cents in 2012. The third-quarter figures reflect the impact of the sale of the New England group and related factors such as income tax expense. The Times Co. agreed in early August to sell the group for $70 million to John W. Henry, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, and completed the deal last week.

The company reported a $5 million loss in income from continuing operations compared with a $2.9 million loss the same time the year before.

Total revenue for the third quarter rose by 1.8 percent, to $361.7 million from $355 million the year before. Overall, the company’s total advertising revenue declined by 2 percent, to $138 million from $140.9 million, the lowest year-on-year quarterly decline in that category in three years. Print advertising revenue declined by 1.6 percent. Digital advertising revenue shrank by 3.4 percent, to $32.8 million from $33.9 million, and also declined as a percentage of overall revenue, to 23.8 percent compared with 24.1 percent in 2012.

A continuing bright spot was circulation, with revenue growing 4.8 percent. The number of paid subscribers to the company’s digital-only packages, which include the website, e-reader and other digital editions, was 727,000, a jump of more than 28 percent from the same time the year before, when it was 566,000. Operating profit was $12.8 million, a rise of 44 percent from $8.9 million a year ago.

Mark Thompson, the Times Co.’s chief executive officer, said in a news release that the company had made encouraging progress.

“We increased our revenue, decreased our costs and, as a result, significantly increased our operating profits compared with the same quarter last year,” he said.

—Christine Haughney, The New York Times