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HOUSING SLUMP MAY PINCH HEDGE FUND INVESTORS

LOS ANGELES

The national housing slump could lead to billions of dollars in losses for Wall Street investors as it drags on for at least another year and mortgage defaults increase, economists said Thursday. The outlook on the U.S. mortgage market by Moody's Economy.com anticipates that more than 1.2-million first mortgage loans will default this year and another 1.3-million will follow next year. Mark Zandi, the Web site's chief economist, said hedge fund investors will lose between $100-billion and $125-billion as a result, he said.

BONITA SPRINGS

WCI has trouble finding a buyer

WCI Communities Inc., which put itself up for sale in February, said it has been unable to find a buyer and will explore options, including selling assets. While several companies initially expressed interest, the deteriorating housing market and tightening credit have made a sale "more challenging," WCI said Thursday.

WASHINGTON

Demand for planes paces orders report

Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods advanced in June by the largest amount in three months, reflecting a rebound in demand for airplanes. The Commerce Department reported that orders for durable goods increased 1.4 percent last month, the best showing since a 5.1 percent increase in March. Orders declined 2.3 percent in May.

NEW YORK

Coca-Cola loses for a third time

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by Coca-Cola that charged its rival PepsiCo with patent infringement on a collapsible bag that dispenses syrup for fountain sodas. It was the third such lawsuit Coca-Cola has brought against PepsiCo or its affiliates in the past six years. The decision was issued by Judge Richard Story of the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Coca-Cola has 30 days to appeal.

TOKYO

Toyota gets closer to top ranking

Toyota's global auto production in the first half of 2007 rose 4.2 percent from a year ago, it said Thursday, bringing it closer to overtaking General Motor Corp. as the world's biggest automaker.

SAFETY FIRST

Ford Motor Co.'s Volvo is recalling its 2005 XC90 sport utility vehicles to inspect the battery to ensure it doesn't short circuit and cause a fire. The recall covers 42,211 XC90 SUVs made in Sweden from June 7, 2004, to May 13, 2005.

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