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Wall Street lower ... Applications for US jobless aid jump ... US economy grows at strong annual rate last quarter



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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks opened slightly lower on Wall Street today, led by declines in retailers and health care companies. Bed Bath & Beyond fell 5 percent. Johnson & Johnson was down 1 percent. Software company Red Hat sank 12 percent after releasing a weak forecast and announcing the departure of its chief financial officer. At 10:11 a.m. Eastern Time, the Dow was down 27 points, at 19,914. The S&P 500 was down 5 points at 2,260. And the Nasdaq was down 11 points to 5,461.

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the number of applications remains at a low level. The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 275,000. That is the most since June. Consumer spending slowed in November, growing to 0.2 percent, the weakest showing since a 0.1 percent rise in August.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term mortgage rates climbed again this week in the U.S., hitting the highest levels since early 2014. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac says the rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans jumped to an average 4.30 percent from 4.16 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage rose to 3.52 percent from 3.37 percent last week. The Federal Reserve last week raised short-term U.S. interest rates for only the second time in a decade.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, the fastest pace in two years. Growth is expected to slow to roughly a 1.5 percent rate in the current quarter. And U.S. businesses stepped up their spending on big-ticket items last month. The Commerce Department says a measure that tracks business investment rose 0.9 percent in November, after a slight 0.2 percent rise the previous month. Orders for all big-ticket factory goods fell 4.6 percent.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Ikea says "a tentative settlement" has been reached in a case involving three families in the United States whose children died after Ikea chests and dressers tipped over. The separate accidents happened in 2014 and 2016 with dressers from Ikea's MALM line. A law firm representing the plaintiffs says the settlement is for $50 million. It still needs court approval.

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The Associated Press

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