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Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

June 26, 2014, 2:12 PM

Thursday Afternoon Business Brief

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are lower on Wall Street this morning as traders seem unimpressed by the latest economic data. The government says the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped again last week, while consumer spending rose in May but by a disappointingly small amount. The Dow was down more than 100 points in the first hour of trading, while the broader indexes are also off by about 0.5 percent. While not deep, the drop has been wide. All 10 sectors of the S&P 500 are lower.

  • The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits declined last week. The Labor Department say first-time jobless claims fell 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 312,000.  The four-week average edged up by the same amount to 314,000. The average has fallen 9 percent since the beginning of this year. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, so the declines indicate that companies are cutting fewer jobs. The total number of people receiving benefits was 2.57 million.
     
  • U.S. consumers stepped up their spending in May, but only slightly. The Commerce Department says spending rose 0.2 percent after no gain in April. Those relatively flat numbers follow a March surge of 0.8 percent, but economists are calling the rebound disappointing and say it won't give the economy the boost they had expected after the first quarter slowdown.
     
  • New York's highest court has refused to reinstate New York City's ban on the sale of big sodas. The state's Court of Appeals has ruled that the city's health department overstepped its bounds when it restricted the size of sodas. The ban limited restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and street carts to selling sugary drinks no larger than 16 ounces. Then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed the rule as a way to fight obesity and other health conditions.
     
  • The German government is canceling a contract with Verizon over fears the company could be letting U.S. intelligence agencies eavesdrop on official communications. The Interior Ministry says it will let its current contract for Internet services with Verizon expire in 2015. Germany has been at the forefront of international outrage over alleged electronic eavesdropping by the U.S. National Security Agency and Britain's GCHQ, revealed last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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