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Foreign holdings of US debt hit $5.46 trillion

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in September for the ninth straight month. The increase suggests that overseas investors are confident in U.S. debt despite a potential budget crisis.

The Treasury Department said Friday that total foreign holdings rose to $5.46 trillion in September, up 0.1 percent from August.

China, the largest holder of U.S. government debt, barely increased its holdings in September to $1.16 trillion. Japan, the second-largest, increased its holdings to $1.13 trillion. Brazil trimmed its holdings to $267 billion.

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JPMorgan, Credit Suisse paying $417 million in SEC case

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ JPMorgan Chase and Credit Suisse have agreed to pay a combined $417 million to settle federal civil charges that they sold risky mortgage bonds to investors that the banks knew could fail ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

JP Morgan did not warn investors that homeowners were behind on their payments for the mortgages tied to the bonds, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday. And both banks failed to properly disclose practices that allowed them to profit while investors lost millions, the SEC said.

When the real estate bubble burst, home values plunged and millions of people defaulted on their mortgages and lost their homes. Investors who bought the securities backed by mortgages lost billions.

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Judge leaning toward OK of $22.5 million fine of Google

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â¿¿ A proposed $22.5 million fine to penalize Google for an alleged privacy breach is on the verge of winning court approval, despite a consumer rights group's cry for tougher punishment.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston told lawyers during a Friday court hearing in San Francisco that she is likely to approve the fine, which is the cornerstone of a settlement reached three months ago between the Federal Trade Commission and Google Inc.

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