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    Contracts to purchase previously owned U.S. homes rose to their highest level in 1-1/2 years in January, a hopeful sign that the sluggish housing recovery may be gaining speed. The National Association of Realtors said its pending home sales index rose 1.7 percent last month, a gain that more than reversed a December slide.

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    Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart continues to cautiously eye favoring an interest rate increase this summer, although he added he still needs to see more data to support such an action. When it comes to lifting the Fed's short-term interest rate target off the near-zero levels its occupied since the end of 2008, "I continue to believe that all meetings from June onward should be on the table," the official said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

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    Orders for durable U.S. goods rose a seasonally adjusted 2.8% in January. That was higher than the 0.5% gain forecast by economists polled by MarketWatch. Orders minus transportation edged up 0.3%, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

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    The dollar trimmed earlier losses against the euro and yen early Friday as the downgrade on fourth-quarter U.S. growth was not as steep as economists had forecast, supporting the view the world's biggest economy will grow at a moderate pace. Gross domestic product grew at a 2.2 percent annual pace, slower than the initial estimate of a 2.6 percent pace, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

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    U.S. economic growth braked more sharply than initially thought in the fourth quarter amid a moderate increase in business inventories and a wider trade deficit, but strong domestic demand brightened the outlook. Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annual pace, revised down from the 2.6 percent pace estimated last month, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

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    Health-plan subsidies are creating tax-season surprises. Obamacare and the federal tax code: Neither is celebrated for its simplicity. So the marriage of the two this tax season has created new complexity, and new headaches, for the millions of Americans who got coverage on the individual health-insurance market.

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    BERLIN-- German lawmakers are set to approve a four-month extension of Greece's bailout on Friday, despite mounting irritation in Berlin at the tone of the left-wing government in Athens. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble spoke out in support of approval during a closed-door meeting with conservative lawmakers on Thursday even as he expressed frustration at his Greek counterpart, participants said. A participant at the meeting said Schäuble described himself as "...

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    The Federal Reserve's core concerns on inflation are far from over. The Labor Department on Thursday said its measure of consumer prices fell 0.7% in January from December, putting it 0.1% below its year-earlier level. That marked its first annual decline since 2009..

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    By Anora Mahmudova and Barbara Kollmeyer, MarketWatch. Salesforce.com (CRM) jumps on earnings beat; energy stocks sell off. NEW YORK-- Small-cap companies outperformed large firms Thursday, as downbeat economic reports and selling pressure from the energy sector weighed on the benchmark S&P 500..

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    Before depositing their hard-earned cash at a bank, most savers look for the FDIC seal of approval, which means their deposits are insured up to a limit of $250,000 per account-holder. Unfortunately, there have been some bank failures since then, some of which have required bailouts. Bailouts tend to incite fear and anger toward regulators, the federal government, and the whole banking industry.

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    For details of foreign central banks' holdings of U.S. marketable securities held at the Federal Reserve, see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41/Current/h41.pdf.

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    For details of the Federal Reserve's money supply report, see: http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h41/current/h41.pdf. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h6/current/h6.pdf. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/h3.pdf.

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    By Joseph Adinolfi, MarketWatch, Hiroyuki Kachi. NEW YORK-- The ICE U.S. Dollar Index rose to its highest level since 2003 Thursday, as currency traders bet that a stronger-than-expected core consumer-price index number will prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than expected.

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    By Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch, Eric Yep. Natural gas down nearly 6% as supply falls less than expected. SAN FRANCISCO-- Oil futures on Thursday settled at their lowest level in nearly a month, with strength in the U.S. dollar adding insult to injury to a market that is already suffering from record-high crude supplies in the U.S.

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    The economy needs to be restructured for the age of information. BERKELEY, Calif.-- In the United States, just three out of 10 workers are needed to produce and deliver the goods we consume. Everything we extract, grow, design, build, make, engineer, and transport-- down to brewing a cup of coffee in a restaurant kitchen and carrying it to a customer's table-- is done by roughly 30% of the country's workforce.

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    Achieving trader status confers many more tax benefits than simple active investorhood. Of course, it also comes with the inherent financial risks of being a trader. In this column, I'll go into more detail on what it takes to meet the tax-law definition of a "trader" and what happens if you do.

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    Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said Thursday that she wants to make sure that a rate hike becomes a "viable option" by the June policy meeting. In an interview on CNBC, Mester said that didn't mean she would back an actual rate hike at that time. I want to see the "panoply" of data over the next four months before making that decision.

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    The Federal Reserve has not become political and will set policy based not on meetings with lawmakers and White House officials but on the U.S. economy, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said on Thursday. "I don't think the Fed has become political," she said on CNBC.

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    Gauge of business investment ends losing streak. WASHINGTON-- Orders for durable goods surged in January and a key measure of business investment rose for the first time in five months, but there's still little evidence that companies will sharply increase spending in the months ahead. Orders for U.S.-made durable goods such as airplanes and appliances rose a seasonally adjusted 2.8% in January, marking the biggest gain in six months, the Commerce Department said Thursday.