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U.S. jobless claims, factory data give economy some shine
Corporate recruiters gesture and shake hands as they talk with job seekers at a Hire Our Heroes job fair targeting unemployed military veterans and sponsored by the Cable Show, a cable television industry trade show in WashingtonBy Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New applications for unemployment benefits held near their pre-recession levels last week and factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region accelerated in April, painting a bright picture of the economy. The economy is regaining its footing after a brutally cold winter and is back on track for faster growth later this year. "The economy is stronger than you think," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York. 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 said on Thursday, staying close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.

GE industrial profit boost underscores strategy, shares up
A GE logo is seen in a store in Santa MonicaGeneral Electric Co posted a 12 percent rise in overall industrial profits on Thursday, as strength in its businesses selling gas turbines, jet engines and oil industry equipment offset weakness in healthcare and transportation. GE, which is increasingly focusing on its traditional manufacturing businesses over its finance unit, posted an 8 percent increase in industrial revenue, even as overall company revenue fell slightly short of Wall Street's target. "The big story is the organic revenue growth," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management, which owns GE shares. "It really shows the return to an industrial emphasis is paying off, and where the company is focusing." The results underscored GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt's strategy to focus the company even more on manufacturing of large industrial products as he reduces the company's dependence on its GE Capital finance unit.

UnitedHealth's 1Q profit tumbles 8 percent
FILE - This Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, filephoto, shows a portion of The UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s campus in Minnetonka, Minn. UnitedHealth Group's first-quarter net income slid 8 percent as fees and funding cuts from the health care overhaul helped dent the performance of the nation's largest health insurer the company announced Thursday April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)UnitedHealth Group's first-quarter net income slid 8 percent as funding cuts to a key product and costs imposed by the health care overhaul dented the health insurer's performance.

Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 4.27 pct
In this March 7, 2014 photo, a realty sign hangs in front of a home for sale in Orlando, Fla. Freddie Mac reports on average U.S. mortgage rates for the week on Thursday, April 17, 2014. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.

Chipotle sales surge as it draws more customers
FILE - This Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 file photo, shows the door on a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Robinson Township, Pa. Chipotle reports quarterly earnings on Thursday, pril 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Mexican food chain Chipotle reported a higher quarterly profit Thursday as more customers flocked to its restaurants for burritos, bowls and tacos.

Algerians trickle to polls in presidential vote
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika arrives on a wheelchair to vote in the presidential elections in Algiers, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Algerians are trickling into the polls to elect a new president of this oil-rich North African nation in an election expected to be won by the ailing incumbent. President Bouteflika has ruled this nation for the past 15 years and, despite suffering from a stroke, is running for a fourth term on a platform of stability. (AP Photo/Sidali Djarboub)ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerians trickled into voting booths on a sunshine-drenched Thursday to elect the president of this oil-rich North African nation in an election dominated by the ailing incumbent running for a fourth term.

Three dead in east Ukraine, Putin warns of 'abyss'
Pro-Russian protester seats at barricades at the police headquarters in SlavianskBy Aleksandar Vasovic and Alexei Anishchuk MARIUPOL, Ukraine/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Separatists attacked a Ukrainian national guard base overnight and Kiev said three of them were killed, the worst bloodshed yet in a 10-day pro-Russian uprising, accompanied by tough words from Vladimir Putin that overshadowed crisis talks. Ukrainian, Russian and Western diplomats arrived for the emergency meeting in Geneva, but there was little hope of any progress in resolving a confrontation that has seen armed pro-Russian fighters seize whole swathes of Ukraine while Moscow masses tens of thousands of troops on the frontier. The Russian president, who overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy last month by declaring Russia had a right to intervene in neighboring countries and annexing Ukraine's Crimea region, accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an "abyss".

Ex-Senegalese president's son to face graft trial
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — An official says the son of Senegal's former president will be tried for illicit enrichment following an investigation into how he amassed his multi-million dollar fortune.

Ex-Russian Alaska 'too cold' to annex, Putin jokes
Russia's President Vladimir Putin gives his annual televised question-and-answer session with the nation in Moscow, on April 17, 2014In a patriotic fervour, Russians are asking President Vladimir Putin to bring back the US state of Alaska, sold off to the United States in Tsarist times. During Putin's annual marathon phone-in session Thursday, when Russians pose questions to the Russian leader, a pensioner asked him to possibly follow the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine with the taking of Alaska. "Faina Ivanovna, dear, why do you need Alaska?" Putin asked the pensioner. "Alaska is cold too," he said.

2 Anglo Irish Bank executives convicted of fraud
Sean FitzPatrick, the former chairman of the Anglo Irish Bank, arrives at the Circuit Criminal court, Dublin as the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank executives continues Wednesday April 16, 2014. A jury Wednesday cleared former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick of all fraud charges related to a loans-for-shares scheme that preceded the bank’s 2009 collapse. The 65-year-old FitzPatrick had denied providing illegal financial help to selected clients. (AP Photo/Brian Lawless/PA) UNITED KINGDOM OUTDUBLIN (AP) — Two former executives of Anglo Irish Bank, the reckless lender that brought Ireland to the brink of bankruptcy, have been convicted of committing fraud in a loans-for-shares scandal.

Ukraine: More stringent border checks for Russians
A Ukrainian soldier controls a road on the outskirts of Izyum, Eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 17, 2014. Ukraine is hoping to placate Russia and calm hostilities with its neighbor even as the U.S. prepares a new round of sanctions to punish Moscow for what it regards as fomenting unrest. (AP photo/Efrem Lukatsky)KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine is introducing stringent checks for Russian citizens who want to cross the border into Ukraine.

Google, IBM earnings send US market lower
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of April 16, 2014 in New York CityNew York (AFP) - US stocks fell modestly in early trade Thursday as poor earnings from Google and IBM set the tone despite solid quarterly reports from Goldman Sachs, General Electric and other firms.

Ukraine: Live Report
Pro-Russia supporters pray a at barricade outside the city government building seized by separatists in MariupolLondon (AFP) - 15:09 GMT - 'Human tone' - Maria Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, says Putin adopted a "peaceful and human tone" during the broadcast, against the background of Russia’s vitriolic and bellicose state propaganda on the crisis.

GE earnings dip 15% but industrial profits rise
Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, poses at GE Energy company in Berlin, Germany on July 8, 2013General Electric Thursday reported lower earnings but higher industrial profits, thanks to gains in its two largest industrial segments. But GE's industrial sales rose from last year and the company grew profits in its two largest segments, aviation (up 19.1 percent) and power and water (up 23.5 percent). Results in the other industrial segments were mixed.

Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
Cannes Film Festival general delegate Thierry Fremaux, left, and Festival President Gilles Jacob, right, pose next to the poster of the Festival, at the end of a press conference to announce this years line up in Paris, Thursday April 17, 204. A Tommy Lee Jones western and a David Cronenberg exposé on Hollywood are among the 18 films vying for the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The festival organizers also said Thursday that two women directors and famed New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard will be in competition at the festival that runs May 14-25. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)PARIS (AP) — David Cronenberg deconstructs Hollywood, Tommy Lee Jones goes Western and reclusive New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard returns in 3-D in films competing at next month's Cannes Film Festival.

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