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Business/Economy

  • Initial jobless claims hit lowest level since July 2008

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest point in more than two years, a sign that the job market may be slowly improving.

    Applications dropped by 34,000 to 388,000, the fewest since July 2008, the Labor Department said Thursday. The level of applications has either fallen or remained unchanged in five of the past six weeks.

  • Holiday 2010: The year shoppers came back

    NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers came back in force for the holidays, right to the end. After two dreary years, Christmas 2010 will go down as the holiday Americans rediscovered how much they like to shop.

    People spent more than expected on family and friends and splurged on themselves, too, an ingredient missing for two years. Clothing such as fur vests and beaded sweaters replaced practical items like pots and pans. Even the family dog is getting a little something extra.

  • Economy brightens as consumers spend, layoffs slow

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Economic reports Thursday suggest employers are laying off fewer workers, businesses are ordering more computers and appliances, and consumers are spending with more confidence.

    The latest data confirm that the economy is improving, even though too few jobs are being created to lower the 9.8 percent unemployment rate.

  • New govs take office amid historic budget crisis

    NEW YORK (AP) — New York's incoming governor, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, says he won't raise taxes even though he will inherit a budget deficit of at least $9 billion when he takes office in January. Ohio Republican Gov.-elect John Kasich is promising to cut taxes, despite a shortfall of about $8 billion.

  • Unemployment benefit claims dip for sixth week

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, the third drop in the past four weeks and a sign that the job market may be slowly improving.

    Weekly claims for jobless aid dipped by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 420,000 in the week ending Dec. 11, the Labor Department said Thursday.

    The four-week average of claims, a less-volatile measure, fell for the sixth straight week to 422,750. That's the lowest level since August 2008, just before the financial crisis intensified with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

  • Obama-GOP tax bill clears Senate hurdle with ease

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Far-reaching legislation to avert a Jan. 1 income-tax increase for millions won overwhelming support in a Senate test vote on Monday, propelled by an uneasy and unusual alliance between the White House and lawmakers in both parties.

    Eager to trumpet the 85-13 vote, President Barack Obama said even before it was announced it proved "that both parties can in fact work together to grow our economy and look out for the American people."

  • Democrats meet with Obama over tax cuts deal

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama met with Democratic congressional leaders at the White House on Monday, eager to seal a year-end bipartisan agreement to extend expiring tax cuts to all Americans and renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

    The White House has also been floating the possibility of including a temporary payroll tax holiday in any agreement as a way to help stimulate the economy, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss recent developments.

  • Barela picked to lead NM economic development

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Gov.-elect Susana Martinez has introduced her nominee to lead the state Economic Development Department, and it's a familiar face.

    Albuquerque businessman Jon Barela was in the news a lot in recent months as he unsuccessfully sought the Albuquerque-area congressional seat. Barela lost in the general election to incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich.

    Barela opened his remarks Friday by saying when one door closes, another opens.

  • Unemployment hits seven-month high

    NEW YORK (AP) — An rise in the U.S. unemployment rate pushed most stocks down Friday as investors moved money into safer assets.

    The unemployment rate climbed to a seven-month high in November as employers added just 39,000 jobs. Economists had expected a gain of 145,000.

    The unemployment rate climbed to 9.8 percent from 9.6 percent.

  • Obama, GOP call White House meeting 'productive'

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Republican congressional leaders agreed Tuesday to work out their differences over taxes and vowed after their first formal meeting since the elections to work harder on a more cooperative approach. There was no consensus on whether to keep Bush era tax cuts in place for the middle class and wealthy alike.