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Stocks creep lower... Homebuilding rockets ... Philip Morris back in court in Illinois

By The Associated Press | Posted - May 19, 2015 at 8:41 a.m.



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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are edging mostly lower in early trading today as the market comes off its latest record high. Energy stocks fell the most early today as the price of oil declined. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 0.1 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 lost 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq composite cast off a point.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. homebuilders ramped up construction in April to the fastest pace in nearly seven and a-half years. The Commerce Department says housing starts last month increased 20.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.14 million homes. That pace ranks as the fastest clip since November 2007.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The founder of Alibaba Group has defended the e-commerce giant's stance against counterfeit goods and expressed regret over a lawsuit filed by the owner of luxury brands Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. Jack Ma said today his company cooperates with brand owners to fight counterfeiting and has a large staff of employees dedicated to that. France's Kering SA filed a lawsuit last week in a U.S. court, accusing Alibaba of profiting from sales of counterfeit goods.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments tomorrow on a $10.1 billion class action verdict against cigarette giant Phillip Morris USA. Last year, an appellate court reinstated a 2003 local verdict that Phillip Morris broke state law by marketing "light" and "low-tar" cigarettes as safer than others.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) —Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a prohibition on cities and towns imposing local ordinances preventing fracking and other potentially environmentally harmful oil and natural gas activities. The much-watched measure sailed through the GOP-controlled Legislature after voters in a university town near Dallas banned hydraulic fracturing locally in November. The new law limits not only the Denton ban but other actions communities could take limiting energy industry activities.

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The Associated Press

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