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About 20 million vehicles recalled during 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Automakers recalled about 20 million vehicles in 2010, led by high-profile recalls by Toyota that prompted new scrutiny of the auto industry's safety record.

The number of recalls this year was the largest in the United States since 2004, according to an analysis of federal data by the Associated Press. The auto industry set a record with 30.8 million recalled vehicles that year.

Toyota Motor Corp. recalled about 7.1 million vehicles in 2010 to fix faulty gas pedals, floor mats that could trap accelerators, defective braking and stalling engines. The safety woes by the world's No. 1 automaker brought more attention to auto safety from government regulators and the public, which filed more than 64,000 complaints with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly double the number in a typical year.

Among other automakers, General Motors Co. recalled about 4 million vehicles in 2010, while Japanese rivals Honda and Nissan both recalled more than 2 million cars and trucks. Chrysler recalled about 1.5 million vehicles, and Ford called back more than 500,000 vehicles. The recall data was preliminary, and the government was expected to release final numbers next year.

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Banks repay $626 million

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Six banks have repurchased investments the government made under its taxpayer-funded financial rescue program, paying a total of $626 million, including dividends, the Treasury Department said Wednesday.

With the latest payments, repayments by financial institutions under the Troubled Asset Relief Program now total $235 billion, with an additional $35 billion in income from dividends, interest and the sale of other securities. The Treasury Department released a total $389 billion under TARP, created at the height of the financial crisis in October 2008.

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Bandit's loot to expire

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Las Vegas casino bosses are serving notice to the bandit who made off with $1.5 million in chips from the Bellagio: Try to redeem those worth $25,000 soon, or they'll become worthless.

Bellagio owner MGM Resorts International is giving public notice that it's discontinuing its standard chip valued at $25,000 and calling for all gamblers holding the chips to redeem them by April 22.

After that, gambling regulators say, each red chip with a gray inlay won't be worth more than the plastic it's cast from.

MGM Resorts posted notice of the redemption last week in the classifieds of the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper. That's one week after a robber wearing a motorcycle helmet held up a craps table at gunpoint and made off with a bag of chips of varying denominations.

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Fewer homeowners seek aid

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer troubled homeowners are receiving assistance with their mortgages as government efforts to prevent foreclosures are slowing.

About 470,000 homeowners received help on their mortgages in the July-September quarter, federal regulators say. That's a 17 percent drop from the previous quarter and a decline of 32 percent from the same period last year.

The pool of homeowners eligible to have their mortgages modified is declining, federal officials say, as banks have concluded many distressed borrowers can't be helped.

That is pushing up the number of foreclosed homes, which keeps home prices low.

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Hunt expanding presence

Hunt Real Estate Corp. is expanding its Niagara County presence, acquiring a small Wheatfield brokerage while aligning with a homebuilder who focuses on that county.

The Buffalo-based real estate brokerage said that Canal Side Realty of Wheatfield has merged into Hunt's Kenmore-Tonawanda branch on Sheridan Drive.

Canal Side founder and broker-owner Deborah Maerten Paluch will join Hunt, along with agents Jerry Maerten, Susan Matheis, Brenda Randall and Marlana White.

At the same time, homebuilder Mike Wachowicz of MCW Construction is shifting his business to Hunt. MCW has five finished model homes, ranging in price from $134,900 to $279,000.

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