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  • US stocks rise; Oracle leads technology stocks higher

    NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Thursday, led by gains in technology stocks after Oracle surged following a strong earnings report. Energy stocks fell back as oil gave resumed its slide. KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 25 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,037 as of 11:20 a.m. Eastern. The Dow…

  • Aer Lingus rejects bid by British Airways parent

    DUBLIN (AP) — Irish airline Aer Lingus has rejected a takeover bid by the International Consolidated Airlines Group, the parent company of British Airways and Spain’s Iberia. Shares in the Dublin-based carrier surged by as much as 21 percent Thursday amid rumors of a possible bid. Those gains were pared after IAG issued a statement…

  • Manufacturing growth slows in Philadelphia region

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region grew at a much slower pace in December compared with the previous month. But the drop came after factory activity reached its highest level in 21 years in November. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said Thursday that its index of regional factory activity dropped to 24.5…

  • Sony cyberattack may be costliest ever

    NEW YORK (AP) — The unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which a U.S. official says is linked to North Korea may be the most damaging cyberattack ever inflicted on an American business. The fallout from the hack that exposed a trove of sensitive documents, and this week escalated to threats of terrorism, forced Sony to…

  • Irish face new abortion row over brain-dead woman

    DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland is debating its ban on abortion again as doctors keep a brain-dead pregnant woman on life support, awaiting a judge’s verdict on what do to with the living fetus. Irish media reported Thursday that relatives want to turn off the woman’s life support systems but doctors are refusing because the law…

  • Gauge of US economy rises 0.6 percent in November

    WASHINGTON (AP) — An index designed to predict the future health of the economy posted a third straight solid gain in November. The Conference Board said Thursday that its index of leading indicators increased 0.6 percent last month, matching the revised October gain. The October reading had originally been reported as a 0.9 percent increase.…

  • Saudi says oil decisions not linked to politics

    RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s oil chief said in comments published Thursday that there are no links between the kingdom’s decision to oppose production cuts and political objectives — an apparent response to accusations last week from Shiite powerhouse Iran. Petroleum Minister Ali Naimi was quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency as…

  • 2014: A year of battle lines drawn over dinner

    Have you picked a side yet? If not, you’d better think fast, because the battle lines are being drawn and they cut right down the dinner table. For if there was any theme to the food world in 2014, it was the prevalence of polarizing issues. Whether we were tussling over genetically modified organisms, or…

  • EU leaders meeting about Russia, jumpstarting growth

    BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders met Thursday to seek solutions to two major challenges –how to jumpstart sluggish economic growth at home, and how to deal long-term with Russia. On the economic front, European Council President Donald Tusk, the official host of the 28-nation summit, said he expected attendees to call for the urgent…

  • AAA projects record holiday travel by Maryland residents

    BALTIMORE (AP) — Record numbers of Maryland residents are expected to travel for the year-end holidays due in part to lower gas prices and a longer holiday travel window. AAA Mid-Atlantic says more than 2.1 million Maryland residents are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home for the holidays. That would be a…

  • Russian sailors leaving France without warship

    PARIS (AP) — Russian sailors are leaving a French Atlantic port without the controversial French-made warship they were supposed to sail away on. France suspended the delivery of the ship to Russia “until further notice” last month because of the conflict in Ukraine. The ship was part of the biggest arms sale ever by a…

  • Average US 30-year loan rate falls to 3.80 percent

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, with the benchmark 30-year loan rate reaching a new low for the year. The rates’ historically low levels could be a boon to potential homebuyers. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage dropped to 3.80 percent this week from…

  • European court rules obesity can be a disability

    LONDON (AP) — Obesity can be a disability, the European Court of Justice ruled Thursday — a decision that could have widespread consequences across the 28-nation bloc for the way in which employers deal with severely overweight staff. The ruling, which is binding across the EU, has such profound implications for employment law that experts…

  • US jobless aid applications decline to 289,000

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign of solid job security and growing confidence among employers. Weekly unemployment benefit applications dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That is the lowest level since late October. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined 750 to…

  • Poll: 81 percent back Putin even as ruble falls

    MOSCOW (AP) — From a Western perspective, Vladimir Putin’s days as president of Russia should be numbered: The ruble has lost about half its value, the economy is in crisis and his aggression in Ukraine has turned the country into an international pariah. And yet most Russians see Putin not as the cause, but as…