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    WASHINGTON-- The number of people who applied for unemployment-insurance benefits ticked up by 2,000 to 304,000 in the week that ended April 12, a slight increase from the lowest level since 2007, signaling that employers are maintaining a slow pace of layoffs, according to government data released Thursday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected claims to total a seasonally adjusted 315,000 in the latest weekly data. The average of new claims over the past month...

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    New claims for jobless benefits hovered near their pre-recession levels last week and manufacturing in the Mid-Atlantic region accelerated in April, suggesting an upswing in economic activity after a brutally cold winter. Coming on the heels of fairly bullish data on retail sales and industrial production, Thursday's reports also hinted job growth may be picking up slightly.

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    WASHINGTON-- The Federal Reserve should prohibit banks from owning physical assets such as commodity and energy trading units, two Senate Democrats said Wednesday. "As a general matter, should be prohibited from owning physical assets like warehouses, pipelines, and tankers," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Colorado and Sen.

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    WASHINGTON-- A strong economy with full employment and stable prices is tantalizingly on the horizon, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said Wednesday. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York, Yellen noted that the central bankers and many economists see a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016. This would be the strongest economy in a decade. "I find this baseline outlook quite plausible," Yellen said.

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    The Federal Reserve will continue to trim its massive bond-buying program and end it this fall, a top Fed official predicted on Wednesday, adding that interest rates will stay near zero until at least then and probably some time beyond. "I cannot foresee any reason to not continue to reduce it to zero," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher told reporters after an event.

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    WASHINGTON-- Richard Fisher, the president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, said Wednesday that he is "not uncomfortable" with the current low level of inflation in the United States, according to news reports. In a speech in Austin, Fisher said he will not vote for any policy to lift inflation beyond the Fed's 2% annual inflation target, according to Reuters. Fisher also said the economy was recovering after a harsh winter.

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    U.S. businesses are still in a "defensive crouch" and are not aggressively hiring largely because of uncertainty over fiscal policy, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said on Wednesday.

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    WASHINGTON- U.S. economic activity increased in most of the country as the weather improved, particularly in the snow-ravaged northeast, according to summary of economic conditions released Wednesday. The Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes about the economy, said ten of the 12 Federal Reserve districts saw improvement- mostly of the "modest to moderate" variety- but a decline in activity in the Cleveland and St. This summary fits comfortably with most private-sector...

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    WASHINGTON-- U.S. economic activity increased in most of the country as the weather improved, particularly in the snow-ravaged northeast, according to summary of economic conditions released Wednesday. The Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes about the economy published by the Federal Reserve, said 10 of its 12 districts saw improvement-- mostly of the "modest to moderate" variety-- but there was a decline in activity in the Cleveland and St. This summary fits comfortably with the...

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    U.S. economic activity picked up in recent weeks as a weather-related drag lifted, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday. In its Beige Book report of anecdotal information on business activity collected from contacts nationwide, the U.S. central bank said eight of its 12 districts characterized growth as "modest to moderate."

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    Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said he is "not uncomfortable" with the current low level of U.S. inflation, and will not vote for or support any policy that drives it above the Fed's long-term 2-percent goal. "We are in that region of 1 to 2 percent; I am not uncomfortable with that," Fisher said.

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    Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday the U.S. economy was making "very meaningful progress" toward full employment but had some way to go yet. "I do think we are seeing very meaningful progress, although clearly ... the goal has not been achieved at this point," she told the Economic Club of New York in answer to a question.

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    WASHINGTON-- The forecast of the Federal Reserve and many economists of a return to full employment and stable prices by the end of 2016 is "quite plausible," said Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday. "It is very welcome news that a return to these conditions has finally appeared in the medium-term outlook of many forecasters," Yellen said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. It has been a decade since the economy was in such a healthy state, Yellen said.

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    WASHINGTON-- The following is the text of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech to the Economic Club of New York, as prepared for delivery. "Nearly five years into the expansion that began after the financial crisis and the Great Recession, the recovery has come a long way. More than 8 million jobs have been added to nonfarm payrolls since 2009, almost the same number lost as a result of the recession.

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    Persistently low inflation poses a more immediate threat to the U.S. economy than rising prices, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Wednesday, stressing that the U.S. central bank would be delivering policy stimulus for some time to come. In her second public speech since taking the Fed's helm, Yellen was careful not to predict when interest rates would rise from near zero.