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Stocks fall...Congress unites to pass spending bill...Security Council backs peace plan for Syria



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NEW YORK (AP) — The gains from earlier in the week have been wiped out today on Wall Street. Stocks closed sharply lower, led by drops in banks and technology companies. Apple and Microsoft each fell 3 percent. The Dow fell 367 points. The S&P declined 36 points and the Nasdaq lost 79 points.

WASHINGTON (AP) — There hasn't been much bipartisanship on display in Congress this year -- but lawmakers managed to end the year with a show of unity. Lawmakers from both parties joined to approve a massive 2016 tax and spending package and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature. The unexpectedly large margin in the House was a victory for new Speaker Paul Ryan -- who saw a majority of GOP lawmakers back the legislation despite complaints from conservatives whose priorities were left out.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council has unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a peace process for Syria -- including a cease-fire, and talks between the government and the opposition. But the resolution makes no mention of the most contentious issue -- the future role of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The blueprint also bars what it calls "terrorist groups" operating in Syria from taking part in the peace process -- including the Islamic State.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nearly three dozen religious colleges and universities have received federal waivers allowing them not to accommodate transgender students in admissions, housing and other areas of campus life. That's according to a report by the nation's largest LGBT rights group and documents obtained by The Associated Press. The schools are located across 20 states. Colleges controlled by religious organizations are allowed to seek exemptions if they can show that treating all students equally would be inconsistent with their religious tenets.

NEW YORK (AP) — The new 'Star Wars' film has set a box office record, with an estimated $57 million from last night's shows. The early figures suggest "The Force Awakens" is on course to exceed the record domestic opening of "Jurassic World," which debuted with $208 million.

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The Associated Press

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