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    WASHINGTON-- Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region showed signs of strengthening in April, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported Thursday. The Philly Fed diffusion index rose to 16.6 in April from 9.0 in March. This is the highest reading since last September.

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    President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request would boost U.S. tax revenue by nearly $1.4 trillion over 10 years if fully enacted, cutting deficits by $1.05 trillion while funding new spending, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.

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    WASHINGTON-- The average rate for a 30- year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.27% in the week that ended April 17 from 4.34% in the prior week, according to a Thursday report from federally controlled mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac (FMCC). A year ago, the 30- year rate was at 3.41%. The average rate for the 15- year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.33% in the latest week from 3.38% in the prior week.

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    Initial claims for U.S. state unemployment benefits rose less than expected in the April 12 week, increasing by 2,000 to 304,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The forecast for this week's report was for a claims level of 315,000, which would have been an increase of 15,000 from the previously reported 300,000 level.

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    WASHINGTON-- The number of people applying for unemployment-insurance benefits is sticking close to the lowest level since 2007, signaling that employers are maintaining a slow pace of layoffs, according to government data released Thursday. Labor Department reported that initial claims for unemployment-insurance benefits reached 304,000 in the week that ended April 12. That tally is up 2,000 from 302,000 in the prior week, which was the lowest level since September...

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    *Jobless claims better than expected* Philadelphia manufacturing data expected* Treasury to sell $18 bln, five-year TIPS* Bond market to close early Thursday, closed on Friday By Karen Brettell NEW YORK, April 17- U.S. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department...

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    Consumers tired of rising checking account fees regularly threaten to switch to community and regional banks, but that talk is cheap, experts have found. As financial institutions introduced more checking account fees post-recession, people started switching to smaller banks, according to Moebs Services, an economic-research firm in Lake Bluff, Ill. From 2008 to 2012, 15 million to 24 million accounts switched from large to smaller banks with assets of $10 billion or less, says...

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    Tax season has come and gone, but it's still a good introduction to a FinancesOnline infographic on our "weird" money habits and how Wall Street and economists track the economy through them. For instance, we believe taxes are difficult, but not as difficult as other lifetime hurdles. That's not the half of it.

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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.