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Stocks edge higher...Consumer prices decline...Homebuilder confidence soars

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising slightly in early trading on Wall Street, ahead of a Federal Reserve announcement this afternoon that might signal when the central bank will raise interest rates. The Fed is wrapping up a two-day meeting with a statement and press conference. FedEx stock rose 4 percent after the shipping company reported better-than-expected earnings.

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's still no sign of inflation in the U.S. The Labor Department says consumer prices edged down two-tenths of a percent in August, as gasoline, airline tickets and clothing prices all fell. It was the first decline since a similar drop in April or 2013. Core prices, which exclude energy and food, were unchanged in August, the first time there hasn't been an increase since October 2010. Over the past 12 months, overall prices and core prices are both up a modest 1.7 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. homebuilders are more confident in the market for new, single-family homes than they have been in nearly nine years. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose four points this month to 59. That's the highest since it reached 61 in November 2005, before the housing bubble burst. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good than poor. The index has risen four months in a row.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The broadest measure of U.S. trade narrowed slightly in the April-June quarter. The Commerce Department says the current account deficit shrank to $98.5 billion in the second quarter, down 3.5 percent from the January-March period. The number reflects gains in exports of oil and civilian aircraft and a bigger surplus in Americans' overseas investment earnings. The current account covers not only the flow of goods and services but also investment flows.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — FedEx says its fiscal first-quarter net income rose 24 percent, beating analysts' estimates. And the shipping company says it plans to hire more than 50,000 extra workers to handle another record year for holiday-season package deliveries. Rival UPS said yesterday it will hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers. Both companies are benefiting from growth in online shopping.

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