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Business Highlights

Rising home sales likely to cool despite low rates

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ A now-expired homebuyer tax credit and low mortgage rates helped boost sales of previously occupied homes in April. The improvements aren't likely to last.

The tax credit is now gone. And economists caution that Americans are facing so many financial obstacles that falling rates alone won't be enough to lift the housing market.

"Although mortgage rates have fallen sharply, the combination of high unemployment, heavy indebtedness and tight credit suggest to us that demand will stumble," said Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics.

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Late slide in financial stocks hits stock market

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Financial companies dragged stocks lower Monday as already anxious investors grew even more uncertain about the U.S. government's financial overhaul plan and debt problems in Europe.

The Dow Jones industrial average slid 80 points in the final 15 minutes of trading to end with a loss of almost 127. It was the lowest close for the Dow since February. All major indexes fell more than 1 percent.

Investors are worried about limits that could be placed on U.S. banks in a final version of the financial overhaul bill. A bill that passed the Senate last week is now being reconciled with the House version. The late drop illustrates how jittery traders are in particular about what will happen in Europe.

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Regulators probe firms' role in stock plunge

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Federal regulators said Monday they are looking at whether big trading firms abandoned the market during the massive sell-off on May 6 rather than providing cash support required under law.

Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission said the possible retreat of big "liquidity providers" during the market plunge is an area of focus in the investigation. Major securities firms are required by law to remain in the market by buying and selling stocks; high-speed electronic trading firms are not.

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