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Stocks gain...Jobless claims rise...Mortgage rates dip



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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in early trading on Wall Street, helped by a rebound in the price of oil and a rise in health care stocks following Pfizer's $16 billion deal to buy drugmaker Hospira (hahs-PEER'-uh). The strength in U.S. markets contrasted with weakness in Europe. Greek stocks plunged as the tensions between Greece's new left-wing government and the European Central Bank intensified.

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applicants remains near historic lows. The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 278,000. The less volatile four-week average 6,500 to 292,750. The government releases the January employment report tomorrow.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term mortgage have resumed their downward trend after rising slightly last week. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage declined to 3.59 percent this week from 3.66 percent. The average rate the lowest since May 2013. The rate for the 15-year loan eased to 2.92 percent from 2.98 percent last week. A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage stood at 4.23 percent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.33 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Commerce Department says the U.S. trade deficit jumped to the highest level in more than two years in December as American exports fell and imports climbed to a record level. The deficit jumped 17.1 percent to $46.6 billion, the biggest imbalance since November 2012. The widening trade gap reflected a drop in exports, which fell 0.8 percent. Imports soared 2.2 percent. The deficit for all of 2014 increased to $505 billion, up 6 percent from 2013.

NEW YORK (AP) — Drug giant Pfizer is buying Hospira (hahs-PEER'-uh) for approximately $15.23 billion, saying it is a good fit with its global established pharmaceutical business. Hospira Inc. is a provider of injectable drugs and infusion technologies. Pfizer will pay $90 per share in cash. The companies put the deal's enterprise value at about $17 billion. Both companies' boards unanimously approved the transaction, which is targeted to close in the second half of the year.

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The Associated Press

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