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Listless markets ... Senate-trade bill ... China's economy

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TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were lackluster today after China's economy showed new signs of weakness and Fed minutes shed little light on the timing of a U.S. interest rate hike. U.S. shares were little changed, For a fourth day in a row the Standard and Poor's 500 moved less than one-half of a percentage point. The S&P 500 ended lower, but barely — down just 0.09 percent, or 1.98 points, to 2,125.85. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 26.99 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,285.40. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.71 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 5,071.74.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department is set to release figures showing how many people filed for unemployment last week. A week ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said applications for unemployment benefits were at the lowest level in 15 years, which means layoffs are low and job security is very high. Employers added 223,000 jobs in April, and the unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supporters of President Barack Obama's trade agenda are scrambling to keep Senate foes from killing it before a full-blown debate even begins. They need 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to keep a mostly Democratic-driven filibuster from blocking further action on the legislation which would give the administration "fast-track" authority to negotiate trade agreements that Congress could only approve or reject, but not change.

HONG KONG (AP) — Manufacturing in China shrank for the third straight month in May as demand remained soft, raising the chances of more stimulus to help spur growth in the world's No. 2 economy. HSBC's preliminary manufacturing index, based on a monthly survey of factory purchasing managers, came in at 49.1 for May. That's slightly better than 48.9 in April but still in the territory of contraction on the 100-point index. Numbers above 50 indicate expansion.

NEW YORK (AP) — A new survey says minority businesses have a harder time getting bank loans than small companies in general. The report by Wells Fargo & Co. and the polling company Gallup found most business owners don't struggle to get credit. But it also shows disparities between the borrowing experiences reported by minorities and by small-business owners in general, including whites.

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