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Loan modifications to prevent foreclosure have uneven record

As banks, borrowers and regulators battle over how much faulty documentation by lenders should impede foreclosures, fresh evidence came Monday that the housing market remained very wobbly.

Only 28,000 defaulting borrowers received permanent loan modifications in September, the Treasury Department said. That was the lowest number since last fall when the program to help struggling homeowners stay in their homes was getting started.

Home sales continued to fall sharply from 2009 levels and prices started to drop again after a period of equilibrium, according to separate reports from the National Association of Realtors and CoreLogic, a housing data company.

The three sets of monthly data indicate a period of continued stress for the housing market, which in recent weeks has also had to contend with the short-term effects of a freeze on foreclosures.

Security concerns vex China Telecom’s push into U.S.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — This spring, an executive from a Chinese telecommunications equipment company made an intriguing job offer to a Silicon Valley software engineer. The Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, wanted to get into the booming market for Internet-based computing, and it had just moved its U.S. headquarters here to capture some of the best talent.

In the span of a decade, Huawei has gone from imitating others’ products to taking on international rivals with its own innovative computing and communications gear. But Huawei has largely been locked out of the United States — until now.

Sprint Nextel, the nation’s third-largest wireless carrier, is preparing to make a decision on buying $3 billion in advanced wireless equipment, and Huawei is considered to be a front-runner for the deal.

Huawei is one of many Chinese companies that are pushing into more sophisticated and lucrative businesses. But security concerns make telecommunications a particularly delicate industry in this country, and even the hint of a Huawei deal with Sprint has generated worries in Washington.

A battle over filming ‘The Hobbit’ in New Zealand

LOS ANGELES — New Zealand’s feisty film workers have taken to the streets this week to try to keep Peter Jackson’s production of “The Hobbit” in their country, nudging the prime minister, John Key, toward a Tuesday meeting with a visiting contingent of Warner Bros. executives.

Filming had been threatened by a dispute over whether a New Zealand branch of an Australian union could engage in collective bargaining on their Hollywood films, which they have not been able to do in the past.

As of Tuesday afternoon in Wellington — the New Zealand capital and the center of a growing movie industry sometimes called Wellywood — the matter was unsettled. But it was clear that Jackson’s furry little film creatures were not going anywhere without a fight.

At least a half-dozen executives from Warner and its New Line Cinema unit, led by Kevin Tsujihara, a member of Warner’s office of the president, arrived in New Zealand early Tuesday for late-day meetings with Key and other government officials. The Warner team is expected to decide within the week whether the films stay in New Zealand or move elsewhere.