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Stocks make gains...Americans' net worth rises...Mortgage rates up

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NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging economic news has the stock market headed higher again. A day after the Federal Reserve signaled it's in no rush to raise interest rates, the Labor Department reports weekly applications for jobless benefits dropped by 36,000. The Dow was up around 100 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq composite also are firmly higher.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans' net worth is at an all-time high. The Federal Reserve says U.S. household wealth rose 1.7 percent in the second quarter to $81.5 trillion, boosted by strong stock market gains and higher home prices. Greater wealth can make people feel more financially secure and encourage more spending. But analysts say the "wealth effect" may not produce as much benefit as it did before the Great Recession since most of the recent gains have occurred in the stock market.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mortgage rates have made their largest one-week gain of the year. Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year loan jumped to 4.23 percent from 4.12 last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage rose to 3.37 percent. However, rates remain at a historically low level.

NEW YORK (AP) — The head of PepsiCo is urging the National Football League to "seize the moment" by putting domestic violence and child abuse policies in place. In a statement, CEO Indra Nooyi blasts what she calls the "repugnant behavior of a few players and the NFL's acknowledged mishandling of these issues." But she says the NFL has a chance to "effect positive change" and she expresses confidence that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will "do the right thing for the league."

NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores has big hiring plans for this holiday season. The world's largest retailer says it plans to hire 60,000 temporary workers, an increase of 10 percent from last year. Wal-Mart also says current workers who want more hours during the holidays will get priority for them. Labor groups have criticized Wal-Mart for low pay and intentionally keeping employees' hours low.

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