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

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are moving steadily higher in the U.S. and Europe as markets regain their footing after a turbulent few weeks. European markets rose after the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, said the bank is ready to give the region a bigger dose of stimulus should inflation fail to pick up. China's markets were closed for a holiday, giving investors some temporary relief from following recent sharp swings there.

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, though applications remain at historically near low levels. The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose by 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. The less volatile four-week average increased by more than 3,200 to 275,500. The Labor Department releases the August jobs report tomorrow.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates have gone up this week after a sharp drop last week. Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 3.89 percent from 3.84 percent last week. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages advanced to 3.09 percent from 3.06 percent. Rates remain well below their levels of a year ago, when the 30-year loan rate was 4.10 percent and the 15-year rate was 3.24 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit has fallen to its lowest level in five months as exports posted a small gain in July while imports declined. The Commerce Department says the deficit narrowed to $41.9 billion in July, a 7.4 percent decline from a June imbalance of $45.2 billion. Exports were up a small 0.4 percent, helped by stronger sales of U.S.-made autos and machinery. Imports declined 1.1 percent. So far this year, the deficit is running 3.6 percent above last year's level, reflecting weaker export sales.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Institute for Supply Management says U.S. services companies expanded at a healthy pace in August, lifted by robust consumer spending. The institute's services index slipped to 59 from 60.3 in July. But July's reading was the highest in a decade, and any reading over 50 indicates expansion. A measure of sales and production fell one point but remained at a solid level of 63.9. A gauge of new orders also fell slightly.

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