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Business Highlights

Updated at: 12/11/2013 5:35 PM
By The Associated Press

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Hilton IPO brings in $2.35B, outdoes Twitter

NEW YORK (AP) _ Hilton is back, and in a big way.

The hotelier, which went private in 2007, on Wednesday priced its initial public offering at $20 per share _ in the middle of its expected range _ for a total take of $2.35 billion on the sale of 117.6 million shares.

The payoff surpasses the $2.1 billion generated by Twitter’s IPO last month. The biggest IPO of the year so far was Plains GP Holdings LP at $2.9 billion.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. is the world’s largest hotel group, when measured by rooms, with 665,667 rooms across 90 countries and territories.

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Female libido drug remains in limbo

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The multi-decade search for a pill that boosts sexual desire in women has hit another roadblock, raising questions about the future of efforts to develop a female equivalent to Viagra.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday it has reached an impasse with the Food and Drug Administration over its drug, flibanserin. The daily pill is designed to increase libido in women by acting on brain chemicals linked to mood and appetite.

The FDA questions whether the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks, considering its "modest" effectiveness and side effects including fatigue, dizziness and nausea.

Sprout, based in Raleigh, N.C., said it is appealing an October letter from the FDA that denied approval and asked for more information. But chances for approval appear slim: Of the 17 appeals FDA considered last year, 14 were denied, according to government figures.

The agency’s latest rejection raises serious questions for more than a half-dozen companies working to develop therapies for women who report stress due to lack of libido. It’s a market drugmakers have been trying to tap since the blockbuster success of Viagra, an erectile-dysfunction drug approved in the late 1990s to increase blood flow to the genitals.

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US runs $135.2 billion budget deficit in November

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The U.S. government ran a much smaller deficit through the first two months of the budget year than the same period last year, signaling further improvement in the nation’s finances.

The November deficit _ the gap between what the government takes in and what it spends _ totaled $135.2 billion, the Treasury Department said Wednesday. That’s 21.4 percent lower than November 2012. And through the first two months of the budget year the deficit totaled $226.8 billion, or 22.7 percent lower than the same period a year ago. The budget year begins on Oct. 1.

Higher tax rates and a better economy have boosted revenue. At the same time, spending has slowed. Those trends helped shrink the annual deficit last year to $680 billion, the lowest deficit in five years. Private economists predict the annual deficit this year will fall further, to around $600 billion.

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FDA approves first generic versions of Cymbalta

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic versions of the blockbuster antidepressant Cymbalta, offering lower-cost access to one of the most widely prescribed treatments for depression, anxiety and other disorders.

Cymbalta is Eli Lilly & Co. Inc.’s best-selling drug and posted 2012 sales of $4.7 billion, making it the fifth-highest selling medication in the world. The drug’s patent expired Wednesday, clearing the way for the launch of cheaper versions of the drug from generic drug makers. Generic drugs often sell for a fraction of the price of the original branded product.

Besides depression, Cymbalta is also prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder, diabetic nerve pain, fibromyalgia and forms of chronic pain.

The FDA said it approved six generic versions of the pill from drug makers including Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., Sun Pharma Global and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

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GM to stop making cars in Australia by 2017

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it will stop making cars and engines in Australia by the end of 2017, with nearly 2,900 jobs to be lost, because of high production costs and competition.

The decision could spell the end of car manufacturing in Australia as the industry will be too small for supporting businesses such as parts makers to remain economic. Toyota Motor Corp. announced it is reassessing its future in Australia. A union said 50,000 jobs in the auto industry are in jeopardy.

GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden once dominated Australian auto sales, but lost market share to imported cars. Ford Motor Co., once Holden’s major rival in Australia, announced in May that it was ending production in the country in 2016. Toyota is the only other auto manufacturer in Australia.

Australia had four car manufacturers before Mitsubishi Motors Corp. shut its doors in 2008.

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Czech brewer gets Budweiser trademark in Portugal

PRAGUE (AP) _ The Czech brewery Budvar said Wednesday that a Portuguese trade court has upheld a decision prohibiting its rival, Anheuser-Busch InBev, from selling beer under the Budweiser name in the country.

State-owned Budvar has been fighting with Anheuser-Busch for over a century over use of the Budweiser brand name. The legal battle continued when Anheuser-Busch was taken over by Belgium’s InBev in 2008 to create the world’s largest brewer.

In a statement, the Czech company _ whose full name is Budejovicky Budvar NP _ said the court in Lisbon rejected AB InBev’s challenge to an earlier ruling because its Budweiser trademarks could be mistaken for those Budvar had already registered in Portugal.

AB InBev has an option to appeal but has not yet said if it plans to do so.

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By The Associated Press(equals)

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 129.60 points, or 0.8 percent, to close at 15,843.53. The S&P 500 index fell 20.40 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,782.22. The Nasdaq composite fell 56.68 points, or 1.4 percent, to 4,003.81.

Benchmark oil for January delivery dropped $1.07 to close at $97.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In other energy futures trading on Nymex, wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $2.66 a gallon. Heating oil was flat at $3.02 a gallon. Natural gas rose 10 cents to $4.34 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international crudes, rose 32 cents to $109.70 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)