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Business Highlights

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US housing starts slowed to 861,000 in November

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. builders broke ground on fewer homes in November after starting work in October at the fastest pace in four years. Superstorm Sandy likely slowed starts in the Northeast.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that builders began construction of houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000. That was 3 percent less than October's annual rate of 888,000, the fastest since July 2008.

Still, the decline follows months of strong gains. Housing starts remain on track for their best year in four years, and the housing market overall appears to be sustaining its recovery.

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UBS to pay $1.5 billion over rate-rigging scandal

GENEVA (AP) â¿¿ Swiss bank UBS agreed Wednesday to pay $1.5 billion in fines for trying to manipulate a key interest rate that affects borrowers around the world.

The settlement with U.S., British and Swiss regulators caps a tough year for the company and the reputation of the global banking industry. The fine on UBS, which will also see two former traders charged with conspiracy, is triple the amount that British bank Barclays PLC agreed to pay in June to settle similar charges.

And it comes a week after HSBC agreed to pay nearly $2 billion to settle allegations of laundering money for Mexican drug cartels and countries under U.S. embargoes, such as Iran.

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Getco buying Knight Capital in $1.4 billion deal

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ Nearly five months after a major software malfunction at Knight Capital roiled financial markets, the trading firm has agreed to sell itself to a competitor, Getco, in a cash-and-stock deal that the companies value at $1.4 billion.

Knight shareholders can choose $3.75 per share in cash or one share of stock in the new holding company. The per-share price â¿¿ which is more than the $3.50 per share that Getco offered last month â¿¿ is a 13 percent premium to Knight's Tuesday closing price. But it's a fraction of the company's worth before the meltdown.

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