NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks have broken through record highs in early trading on Wall Street, a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank is in no hurry to stop stimulating the economy. Bernanke said the U.S. economy still needs help because unemployment remains high and inflation is below the Fed's target. The Fed is currently buying $85 billion a month in bonds to keep interest rates low and to encourage spending and hiring.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for unemployment benefits is on the rise again. The Labor Department says applications rose by 16,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 360,000, a level that's still consistent with steady hiring. The less volatile four-week average increased by 6,000 to 351,750. The weekly jobless data can be volatile in July with schools closed and some automakers shutting down their factories. The broader trend has been favorable.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mortgage rates continue to climb. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week to 4.51 percent, a two-year high. It was 4.29 percent last week but just two months ago, it was 3.35 percent. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.53 percent from 3.39 percent last week. That's the highest since August 2011.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Retailers are reporting their strongest sales gains since January. A preliminary tally of 12 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers finds revenue at stores opened at least a year rose 3.9 percent in June compared with the same month a year ago. That's better than the trade group expected.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Microsoft is reshuffling its business in a move that it says will allow it to innovate faster and focus on devices and services. The move by the world's largest software maker comes amid a steady decline in PC demand as people turn to tablets and other mobile devices. Microsoft's new divisions include engineering, marketing and business development.
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