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Stocks slightly higher...Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan investigated for brake issue...Surge in returns

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are wrapping up a quiet trading day with slight gains. Materials and technology companies led the way, while energy stocks rose with the price of crude oil. The Dow continued to inch toward the 20,000-mark, gaining 11 points to 19,945. The Nasdaq climbed 24 points to an all-time high of 5,487. And the S&P gained 5 to 2,268.

NEW YORK (AP) — Several homebuilders have posted gains following positive reports on home prices and consumer confidence. Lennar led the pack with a 2 percent gain. D.R. Horton and PulteGroup each rose 1.3 percent.

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government is investigating some Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan cars because the brake pedal may lose pressure, making it hard for drivers to stop the vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says three crashes have been blamed on the braking issue. The investigation covers Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan cars with model years 2007 to 2009. NHTSA estimated that there are about 475,000 of those vehicles.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Along with surging online sales comes a surge of returns. UPS expects to deliver 1.3 million packages back to retailers on Jan. 5, the day it has designated as "National Returns Day." If UPS is right, it will be its busiest returns day ever, topping last year's 1 million. By the end of January's first week, the company says it will likely have returned 5.8 million packages, topping last year's 5 million, which was also a record.

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have charged three Chinese nationals they say profited from insider information about mergers and acquisitions after hacking into the networks of law firms working on the mergers. The three men allegedly made more than $4 million by buying stock in companies that were about to be acquired and then selling the shares after the acquisitions were announced. One defendant was arrested Monday in Hong Kong. Two others have not been arrested.

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