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Stocks make gains...NJ lawmakers condemn ExxonMobil settlement...Government to certify non-GMO food

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NEW YORK (AP) — Encouraging news on the job market and inflation have helped lift stocks higher. The government said fewer people applied for unemployment aid last week, pushing the four-week average down to its lowest level since April 2000. Meanwhile, the producer price index dropped 0.4 percent in April. The Dow and the S&P 500 snapped three-day slumps, with the bluechip index gaining 191 points, or 1.1 percent, to 18,252. The S&P 500 added 22 points, also 1.1 percent, 2,121. The Nasdaq composite rose 69, or 1.4 percent, to 5050.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Assembly is condemning a proposed $225 million settlement in an environmental dispute with ExxonMobil. Democrats consider the settlement figure well below what ExxonMobil should pay for contaminating the environment at two petroleum plants in Bayonne and Linden. They note that the government originally indicated the state could get nearly $9 billion. Republican Gov. Chris Christie has described the settlement as "a really good deal."

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department has developed new government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. USDA's move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of the genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. The certification would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a "USDA Process Verified" label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.

HOUSTON (AP) — Blue Bell Creameries has signed agreements with health officials in Texas and Oklahoma that require the company to inform the states whenever there is a positive test result for listeria in its products or ingredients. Blue Bell has said it will be at least several months before its products are back in stores after recalling all of them because of listeria illnesses linked to its ice cream. Blue Bell failed to tell federal or state health officials of repeated findings of listeria at its Oklahoma plant that date back to 2013.

SEATTLE (AP) — Tugs have pulled a 400-foot-long Arctic oil drilling rig into Seattle waters despite environmentalists' protests and the city's opposition to letting it dock there. The Polar Pioneer is one of two drilling rigs that Royal Dutch Shell plans to park in Seattle until drilling season in the Arctic begins in the summer. Shell's plans have created a showdown not just with environmentalists but also with the city of Seattle. Mayor Ed Murray says a new permit is needed for the rigs to dock, but Shell says current permits are sufficient.

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