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Wall Street struggles to stay in positive territory ... Jobless claims dip by 2,000 ... February home construction up 3 percent

By The Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 16, 2017 at 8:29 a.m.

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stock indexes are trying to inch ahead today, following European markets, which rose on relief after results from a Dutch election eased concerns about the strength of the European Union. At 10:18 a.m. Eastern Time, the Dow was up a fraction of a point to 20,963. The Nasdaq was up 2 points at 5,902. And the S&P 500 was down a point at 2,384.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, a further indication of the health of the labor market. The Labor Department says applications for jobless benefits dipped by 2,000 to 241,000. Claims had risen by 20,000 in the previous week. And two weeks ago, claims had fallen to a 44-year low of 223,000. Overall, 2.03 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, 8.2 percent lower than a year ago.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates are up this week for a second straight week, posting new highs for the year. The markets have been anticipating an increase in a key interest rate by the Federal Reserve, which the Fed announced Wednesday. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate loans climbed to 4.30 percent from 4.21 percent last week. The rate on 15-year mortgages increased to 3.50 percent from 3.42 percent last week.

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. builders broke ground on new homes at a faster pace in February, a sign that developers expect solid sales growth this year. The Commerce Department says housing starts rose 3 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.3 million. Almost all of those gains came from construction of single-family houses, which rose 6.5 percent. Construction of apartment buildings fell 7.7 percent in February.

DETROIT (AP) — Hyundai is recalling nearly 978,000 cars in the U.S. because the front seat belts could detach in a crash. The recall covers Sonata midsize sedans from the 2011 through 2014 model years, and the Sonata hybrid from 2011 through 2015. Hyundai says a fastener for a seat belt anchor may not have been fully latched during assembly.

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The Associated Press


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