NEW YORK (AP) -- Encouraging reports on the U.S. economy are outweighing investor worries about possible military action against Syria, and that's making for a positive day for stocks. The government raised its estimate for second quarter economic growth to 2.5 percent, while claims for jobless benefits continued to decline last week. The Dow has been up as much as 90 points in today's session, though it's backed off in afternoon trading. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq also are higher.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage rates fell this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year fixed loan dropped to 4.51 percent, while the average on the 15-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.54. While rates remain low by historical standards, they have risen more than a full percentage point since May when the Fed signaled it might begin reducing bond purchases later this year.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Labor Secretary Thomas Perez says strikes by fast-food workers around the country today show the need to raise the minimum wage. Perez is leading an Obama administration push to boost the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. The fast-food workers behind today's demonstrations are calling for a $15 minimum wage. Perez tells The Associated Press that "the rungs on the ladder of opportunity are feeling further and further apart" for those in minimum wage jobs.
CHICAGO (AP) -- A court document detailing terms of a discrimination settlement indicates Merrill Lynch has agreed to sweeping policy changes to address the concerns of black financial advisers. Attorneys for some 1,200 plaintiffs announced the $160 million payout. If approved by a federal judge, the settlement will be one of the largest ever in a discrimination suit.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bottles of Tylenol sold in the U.S. will soon bear red warnings on the cap alerting users to the potentially fatal risks of taking too much. The warning will make it clear that Tylenol contains acetaminophen, a pain-relieving ingredient that's the nation's leading cause of sudden liver failure. The move comes amid a growing number of lawsuits against the drug's maker, Johnson & Johnson, and pressure from the federal government.
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