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Jobless claims fall, 4-week average at 2-1/2 year low

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell as expected last week, with the four-week moving average dropping to its lowest level in more than 2-1/2 years, pointing to a strengthening labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 385,000, the Labor…

White House, Republicans in new stimulus spat

WASHINGTON – The White House and its Republican foes opened a new skirmish over President Barack Obama’s 800-billion-dollar stimulus plan Thursday, on the second anniversary of the bill’s enactment. Vice President Joe Biden, who was charged with ensuring the massive infrastructure spending and tax cutting bill was not consumed with…

Jobless claims rise 25,000 last week

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, according to a government report on Thursday that still pointed at gradual labor market recovery. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 410,000, the Labor Department said, partially reversing the…

Fed sees firmer US recovery

WASHINGTON — The US economic recovery is now on a firmer footing, with consumers and businesses spending more despite still-high unemployment, according to Federal Reserve’s top policy panel. Minutes of the Fed’s January meeting, published Wednesday, pointed to the bank’s more optimistic view of the US recovery, despite persistent high…

Obama vows to tackle benefit spending

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Tuesday vowed to tackle costly but fiercely guarded medical, retirement and jobless benefits, as he sought to rebuff criticism he is not willing to address tough spending issues. Facing allegations that his 2012 budget does not tackle the main causes of the country’s soaring…

Obama struggles to balance budget cuts, investment

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama unveils his fiscal 2012 budget Monday, an election year plan forged from conflicting needs to cut spending and stoke the economic recovery. With vast crisis payments and sharply lower tax revenues making it difficult for the government to balance its books, Obama will set…

Fed’s Bernanke tackles congressional critics

WASHINGTON – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke fended off criticism that he is ignoring the risk of rising prices Wednesday, as he faced a skeptical Republican-controlled panel in Congress. “We remain unwaveringly committed to price stability,” Bernanke told the House of Representatives budget committee, rejecting claims that rising prices for…

Ron Paul holds first hearing to scrutinize Fed

WASHINGTON – Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul on Wednesday held his first official hearing to examine the policies of the Federal Reserve on unemployment and economic growth. Paul, an outspoken critic of the Fed, was tapped to chair the House financial services subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology after…

Saudi reformers start Facebook group

DUBAI – Like their Arab neighbours using the web to rally against their regimes, Saudis seeking political, social and economic reforms have created a group on Facebook that by Tuesday had nearly 2,000 members. “The people want to reform the regime” group calls for a constitutional monarchy, transparency, legislative elections,…

Unemployment claims at two-year low

WASHINGTON — New jobless claims in the United States fell to the lowest levels since July 2008 last week, the Labor Department said. Claims for unemployment benefits stood at 388,000 in the week ending December 25, down 34,000 from the previous week and below 400,000 for the first time since…

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