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Business Highlights

The Associated Press

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US stocks fall as Europe doubts linger

Fear of Europe's debt problems spreading is once again playing havoc with Wall Street.

Stocks dropped Wednesday as borrowing rates climbed for Spain and Italy, a sign that investors are losing confidence in those countries' finances.

Spain's 10-year borrowing rate leapt to 6.06 percent from 5.70 percent early Tuesday. Many fear that Spain, strangled by high unemployment and a real estate collapse, could be the next nation to need a financial bailout.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down as much as 184 points before recovering about half of the loss. Still, the average has fallen for six consecutive days, its longest losing streak since last summer.

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Fannie Mae earns $2.7 billion in Q1, will pay government $2.8 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. mortgage giant Fannie Mae reported its first net income gain since it was taken over by the government during the 2008 financial crisis.

Fannie said Wednesday that it earned net income attributable to common stockholders of $2.7 billion in the January-March quarter. Instead of seeking additional aid from taxpayers, the company will pay a dividend of $2.8 billion to the Treasury Department.

That compares with the same quarter one year ago when Fannie reported a net loss of $6.5 billion.

The company was able to report the gain mostly because it had lower expenses for its losses. Two key reasons for that: the decline in home price has slowed and fewer mortgages are in serious delinquency.

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US wholesale stockpiles grew 0.3 percent in March

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. wholesalers' inventories grew more slowly in March.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that wholesale stockpiles increased 0.3 percent in March from February, just one-third of the previous monthly increase. Monthly sales rose 0.5 percent in March, about half the gain from the previous month.

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