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Business Highlights

Monday - 11/18/2013, 7:45pm  ET

The Associated Press

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Despite surge, many don't see a stock bubble

NEW YORK (AP) -- Is the stock market due for a pullback?

The Dow Jones industrial average has surged 900 points since early October and crossed the 16,000-point threshold Monday. IPOs are hot again. Small investors, stirred from their post-recession daze, are coming back to stocks. And it's been more than two years since the market has had a significant slump.

Those trends have raised concerns of a stock bubble. They shouldn't, money managers say, because even with the broader market's 26 percent jump this year, stocks aren't overpriced yet.

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Stocks hit round-number milestones, then slip

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market broke through two milestones Monday before giving up nearly all its gains late in the day.

Stocks rose from the opening bell, lifting the Dow Jones industrial average above 16,000 for the first time and the Standard & Poor's 500 index past 1,800, two big markers in a historic bull market. But by the end of day, both indexes had fallen below those levels.

The Dow managed to eke out a gain over Friday's close with a late push higher, ending just 24 points shy of 16,000. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are on track for their best year in a decade and have soared more than 140 percent since bottoming out in the Great Recession more than four years ago.

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Hyundai to market hydrogen vehicle next year

DETROIT (AP) -- For years, the joke in the auto industry was that a mass-produced car that runs on hydrogen was always a decade away.

That will change next year when Hyundai starts selling a Tucson SUV powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. It will be the first mass-market vehicle of its type to be sold or leased in the U.S.

Even as the industry focused on battery-powered and hybrid cars, automakers such as Hyundai, Honda and Toyota kept up research on fuel cells. Now they appear to have conquered obstacles such as high costs, safety concerns and a lack of filling stations. These vehicles could help the companies meet stricter future fuel-economy standards.

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MF Global to pay $1.21 billion restitution

WASHINGTON (AP) -- MF Global Inc. must pay back $1.21 billion to ensure customers recover their losses sustained when the brokerage firm failed in 2011.

The restitution is being levied following a complaint filed by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission earlier this year that alleges MF Global unlawfully used customer funds for the firm's needs in its final weeks.

MF Global Holdings, the New York-based parent company, imploded in October of 2011 after making big bets on bonds issued by European countries that later turned sour. When it collapsed, more than $1 billion in customer money was discovered to be missing. It was later discovered that the funds were used to pay for the company's own operations. With $41 billion in assets, it was the eighth-largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history.

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US homebuilder confidence holds steady in November

U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the housing market held steady this month, but many are worried that another fight over the federal budget could cause would-be buyers to put off home purchases.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Monday stayed at 54 this month. October's reading was revised one point lower from its initial estimate.

Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.

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Foreign holdings of US Treasury debt up 1 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Foreign buyers of U.S. Treasury securities increased their holdings in September, suggesting many shrugged off budget battles in Washington to keep investing in U.S. debt.

Total foreign holdings rose 1 percent in September to $5.65 trillion, the Treasury Department reported Monday. That follows a 0.03 percent gain in August.

Holdings had fallen from April through July, possibly reflecting concerns about rising interest rates. In September, holding were 1.2 percent below the record high of $5.72 trillion reached in March.

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Fight begins over opening up Mexico's oil monopoly

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- The fight to revamp Mexico's moribund, state-run oil industry could start as early as this week with a Senate proposal to allow private access to the country's oil, a nationalist symbol that for decades has been fiercely protected by the constitution from possible profiteering by foreign companies.

Legislators from the two parties supporting an oil overhaul say they support constitutional changes to allow the government to grant licenses and share oil and profits with multinational giants such as Exxon or Chevron. The anticipated proposal would go much further than the plan introduced by President Enrique Pena Nieto in August, which would have allowed the sharing of profits but not of oil.

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