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Islamic State group confirms links between Brussels, Paris attacks...Germany won't accept Syria vote...Stocks gain

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BRUSSELS (AP) — The Islamic State group's online magazine is praising the attackers who killed 32 in Brussels last month. And it's hailing two brothers who were suicide bombers in the attack as key actors in November's bloodbath in Paris as well. The extremist Muslim group has claimed responsibility for both acts of carnage targeting Western European capitals.

BERLIN (AP) — Germany says it won't accept the results of parliamentary elections being held today by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government. Germany's foreign ministry says it's "simply impossible" to hold "free and fair elections" amid a civil war. Bashar Assad's government says the vote is constitutional and separate from peace talks in Geneva aimed at ending the civil war, but the opposition says it contributes to an unfavorable climate for those negotiations.

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's the latest sign that American consumers are reluctant to spend freely. U.S. retail sales fell last month as Americans cut back on their car purchases. The Commerce Department says sales at retail stores and restaurants fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in March, following a flat reading in February and a drop in January. Americans have been more cautious about spending this year than most economists expected, despite steady job gains and lower gas prices. That's a key reason why analysts now think the economy barely expanded in the first quarter.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are rising in early trading, led by gains in banks after JPMorgan Chase turned in results that weren't as bad as analysts anticipated. Shares in other banks also rose. The Dow has been more than 100 points higher in the opening minutes of trading.

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey judge has ruled that Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz meets the constitutional requirements to be president, and that he may appear on the state's presidential primary ballot. The judge ruled that a child of a citizen-father or citizen-mother is "indeed a natural born Citizen within the contemplation of the Constitution." Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother. And he faced challenges to being on the June 7th primary ballot in New Jersey. The judge's decision goes to New Jersey's Republican lieutenant governor and secretary of state -- who can accept, reject or modify the ruling.

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