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US employers closed out 2017 with modest but steady hiring

WASHINGTON (AP) — The December jobs report suggests that the economy has entered the new year on solid footing. Employers added 148,000 jobs, enough to keep the unemployment rate at 4.1 percent for a third straight month. The numbers indicate that job gains are slowing, which typically happens when unemployment falls to ultra-low levels. Despite the difficulty some employers are having in finding qualified workers, pay gains remain sluggish.


African-American unemployment hit record low in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Years of steady hiring and economic growth have delivered a cumulative benefit for at least one group that hasn’t always shared in America’s prosperity. The unemployment rate for African-Americans reached 6.8 percent in December, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data in 1972.


Tech stocks rise for fourth day as New Year rally continues

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rise for the fourth day in a row as the government’s December jobs report shows strong hiring in manufacturing and construction and an increase in factory orders. Technology companies are rising, as are health care and consumer-focused companies. Job growth continued even though employers didn’t add as many jobs as experts expected.


Your paycheck may be going up soon because of tax cuts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Millions of working Americans should start seeing fatter paychecks as early as next month, as a result of the recent tax cuts recently passed by Congress. But the precise timing hasn’t been fixed yet. And some employees should be aware that less money withheld doesn’t necessarily mean that their tax burden will shrink next year.


Wolff: “In every way comfortable” with Trump book

WASHINGTON (AP) — Author Michael Wolff says he spoke with President Donald Trump multiple times for his explosive new book and remains “absolutely, in every way comfortable” with its portrait of the chief executive. Trump has tweeted that the book is full of lies and that he never talked to Wolff for the book. Wolff said he doesn’t know if Trump realized three hours of conversations were interviews. “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” went on sale Friday, four days earlier than the publisher planned.


Border inspections of electronic devices hits record high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government inspected a record number of international travelers’ electronic devices last year, expanding a practice that has drawn alarm from privacy advocates. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it inspected 30,200 phones and other electronic devices in fiscal year 2017 — a nearly 60 percent spike from 2016. The government says the spike is due, in part, to the fact that people now carry more devices, often several at a time.


Why cable bills are rising again and what can you do

NEW YORK (AP) — Cable and satellite TV providers are ringing in the new year with an unwelcomed gift: higher cable bills. Cable companies point to rising fees they pay to carry TV networks. The networks, in turn, have their own rising costs — particularly sports, as they willingly pay more to sports leagues for what they consider must-have programming. Although annual rate hikes are inevitable, many consumers manage to lower their bills by pushing back and getting promotional rates.


States’ rights: New pot rule sparks latest clash with US

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to rescind an Obama-era policy on federal marijuana enforcement sparked an outcry from critics upset that Sessions is trampling on the rights of states that have legalized some form of marijuana usage. Its status as an illegal drug under federal law has led to the prosecution of growers and dispensaries that appear to be operating legally under state law. Thursday’s announcement raises fears of a possible renewed crackdown.


Alaska may open up again for oil leasing, but risks linger

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Trump administration is pursuing petroleum lease sales in Arctic waters but an analyst says potential bidders may find other areas more attractive. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Thursday proposed a wide range of petroleum lease sales in U.S. waters including 19 in Alaska and six within Arctic waters. The director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute, Mark Barteau, says oil companies may consider the challenges of Arctic offshore oil exploration and choose to invest elsewhere.


Transcripts show Fed divided in 2012 over bond purchases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Transcripts released Friday show sharp divisions inside the Federal Reserve in 2012 over the need for a third round of bond purchases to boost a lagging economy. The doubters, including the presumed incoming Fed chair Jerome Powell, expressed fears that the risks outweighed what they believed would be small benefits. Even then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was pushing for the move, conceded that whatever action the Fed took was “going to be a shot in the proverbial dark.”


The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 19.16 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,743.15.

The Dow Jones industrial average surged 220.74 points, or 0.9 percent, to 25,295.87.

The Nasdaq composite advanced 58.64 points, or 0.8 percent, to 7,136.56.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 57 cents to $61.44 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 45 cents to $67.62 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline slid 2 cents to $1.79 a gallon. Heating oil declined 2 cents to $2.06 a gallon. Natural gas tumbled 9 cents, or 3 percent, to $2.80 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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