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Stocks slide...Jobless claims increase...Existing home sales rise

Thursday - 2/21/2013, 11:48am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are sliding for a second day on Wall Street, after the government said more people applied for unemployment benefits last week. European stocks also fell, after a monthly survey of European executives showed that business activity in the European Union slowed in February.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department says the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits jumped by 20,000 last week, and the less volatile four-week average rose by 8,000 to the highest level in six weeks. But the number is still at a level that suggests slow but steady improvement in the job market.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- There's fresh evidence that the housing market continues to recover. The National Association of Realtors says sales of previously occupied homes rose in January to the second-highest level in three years. And the median price for a home sold in January was $173,600, an increase of 12.3 percent from a year ago.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A measure of the U.S. economy's future direction suggests slow growth will continue in the coming months. The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose two-tenths of a percent in January to 94.1, following a gain of half a percent in December. Rising stock prices, falling applications for unemployment benefits and a gain in housing permits drove the index higher.

NEW YORK (AP) -- The world's largest retailer is offering a weak business outlook. Wal-Mart Stores reports an 8.6 percent increase in profit for the fourth quarter, which includes the crucial holiday season. But higher gasoline prices, late tax refunds and the payroll tax increase have it wary about the coming year. Wal-Mart accounts for nearly 10 percent of non-automotive retail spending in the U.S.

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