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Stocks slide...Jobless claims fall...Retailers report strong January sales

Thursday - 2/7/2013, 11:38am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are moving lower in early trading on Wall Street. Stocks haven't moved much since the start of the week, suggesting that the recent rally that pushed both the Dow and the S&P 500 close to record levels may have stalled.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An update on the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits suggests that companies are continuing to hire at a modest but steady pace. The Labor Department says unemployment applications fell by 5,000 last week, and the less volatile four-week average dropped to the lowest in nearly five years.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government says worker productivity shrank in the final three months of last year, although the decline was caused by temporary factors. The Labor Department says productivity contracted at an annual rate of 2 percent in the fourth quarter, the biggest drop since the first quarter of 2011. Labor costs rose at a 4.5 percent rate. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Macy's and other major retailers are reporting strong sales in January as shoppers went back to the stores after the winter holidays to take advantage of clearance sales. Twenty retailers reported today that revenue at stores opened at least a year rose an average of 5.1 percent, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. That's the highest reading since August, when it rose 6 percent.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year fixed loan is unchanged this week at 3.53 percent. That's still near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest in records dating to 1971. The rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage dropped to 2.77 percent from 2.81 percent last week. The record low is 2.63 percent.

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