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US stocks wavering ... Fewer Americans apply for unemployment ... Avg US mortgage rates drop



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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S stocks are wavering between small gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street today. Energy and health care companies are gaining, but basic materials companies are lower. At 10:27 a.m. Eastern Time, the Dow was down 23 points at 21,618. The S&P 500 was little changed at 2,474. And the Nasdaq was little changed at 6,385. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gained 1 point, to 1,433.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans applied for jobless benefits last week, as the number of people applying for benefits remains near historic lows indicating a robust job market. The Labor Department says that weekly unemployment applications fell by 15,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 233,000. It was the largest weekly drop since late April. The less volatile four-week average declined 2,250 to 243,750.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week after two straight weeks of increases. The benchmark 30-year rate slipped back below the significant 4 percent level. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages fell to an average 3.96 percent from 4.03 percent last week. It stood at 3.45 percent a year ago and averaged a record low 3.65 percent in 2016. The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate home loans eased to 3.23 percent from 3.29 percent last week.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Justice Department officials say authorities have taken down an internet marketplace for drugs, counterfeit goods, weapons, hacking tools and other illicit items. Prosecutors say AlphaBay had 200,000 members and 40,000 vendors before it was taken offline, and was the largest of many illegal marketplaces that operate in hidden corners of the internet.

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (AP) — Sears will begin selling its appliances on Amazon.com, including smart appliances that can be synced with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa. Sears, which also owns Kmart, says its Kenmore Smart appliances will be fully integrated with Amazon's Alexa, allowing users to control things like air conditioners through voice commands. Today's announcement sent shares of Sears soaring more than 18 percent at the opening bell.

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The Associated Press

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