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Stocks climb...Avon says it has no takeover offers...Mortgage rates edge higher

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are climbing in midday trading on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average has been up more than 180 points, the Nasdaq composite has gained more than 60 and the S&P 500 was about 20 points ahead. Technology stocks are among the day's biggest gainers.

NEW YORK (AP) — Avon says it has received no takeover offers. That's after a purported $8 billion bid for the company led to its shares being halted three times. In a filing that appeared today on the website used by the Securities and Exchange Commission, an entity calling itself PTG Capital Partners said it had submitted a bid of $18.75 per share to the board at Avon. The filing contained numerous typos, including a misspelling of PTG's own name. Avon says it cannot confirm that the company exists.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal court has blocked a new Utah law that bans price-fixing for contact lenses. Lens makers Alcon Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson and Bausch & Lomb argue that the law is an unconstitutional overreach written specifically to benefit Utah-based online discount retailer 1-800 Contacts. They say setting minimum prices protects eye doctors from being undercut. Today's ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver reverses a lower-court ruling and puts the law on hold as the legal challenge plays out.

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Duke Energy has pleaded guilty in federal court to environmental crimes and has agreed to pay $102 million in fines and restitution over years of illegal pollution leaking from coal-ash dumps at five North Carolina power plants. The company's plea to nine misdemeanor counts involving violations of the Clean Water Act was part of a negotiated settlement with federal prosecutors.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates are up for the third straight week. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.85 percent this week from 3.80 percent last week. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 3.07 percent from 3.02 percent. Both rates were the highest since mid-March. A year ago, the 30-year rate was 4.20 percent and the 15-year was 3.29 percent.

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