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Stocks inch higher...Mortgage rates rise again...Jobless claims fall



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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are edging higher in light trading on Wall Street, led by utilities and phone companies. Sears jumped more than 5 percent after the struggling retailer said it obtained a letter of credit that the company can use to fund its operations. Banks are falling. The price of crude oil is heading lower.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term mortgage rates have ticked up again this week, staying at their highest levels since early 2014. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate for 30-year fixed-rate loans rose to an average 4.32 percent from 4.30 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage rose to 3.55 percent from 3.52 percent last week.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says applications for unemployment benefits fell by 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 265,000. The less volatile four-week moving average for claims was 263,000. Claims have now stayed below 300,000 for 95 straight weeks, the longest streak since 1970.

SAO PAULO (AP) — Unemployment has jumped yet again in Latin America's largest economy. Brazil's IBGE statistics bureau says unemployment in the three months through November rose to 11.9 percent. That's nearly 3 percentage points higher than it was during the same period last year. Unemployment has repeatedly hit new highs since May of last year. Brazil's economy has contracted for six straight quarters.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S. has committed to donating 125,000 pounds of food to an agency dedicated to serving the less fortunate in northern New Jersey. Jersey City-based Goya Foods will send 10,000 pounds of food each month to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark, which will distribute the goods to shelters.

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