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Stocks fall...Jobless claims drop...Mortgage rates mixed

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are lower on Wall Street as worries intensify about China's economy and dropping oil prices. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped about 300 points in the opening minutes of trading but has since recovered about half that. China's main stock index plunged, triggering the second automatic halt in trading this week. The price of oil sank to its lowest level in 12 years.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers appear to be insulated from the recent overseas turmoil. The Labor Department says fewer people sought unemployment benefits last week. Applications for jobless aid fell by 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000. The less volatile four-week average dipped 1,250 to 275,750. The government releases the December unemployment report tomorrow.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates are mixed this week, with the key 30-year rate slipping back under the 4 percent mark. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.97 percent from 4.01 percent last week. But the average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose this week to 3.26 percent from 3.24 percent.

LANSING, N.Y. (AP) — All 17 miners who were stuck hundreds of feet below the surface in an elevator at the deepest salt mine in the Western Hemisphere have been rescued. Cargill Inc. spokesman Mark Klein says the last two miners were raised to the surface by a crane this morning at the mine in the central New York town of Lansing. Klein says the miners got stuck 900 feet underground last night while descending to the floor of the 2,300-foot-deep mine to start their shift. He says they were never in danger.

FAIRVIEW, Okla. (AP) — Three earthquakes capable of causing moderate damage have been recorded in northwestern Oklahoma since last night. The quakes were felt in Kansas and the U.S. Geological Survey says up to eight states may have been affected. More than a dozen smaller quakes were also recorded last night and today. Oklahoma's earthquakes have been linked to injecting wastewater underground from oil and gas production.

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