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Resumption of high-level US-China trade talks raises hopes

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration resumed high-level talks with Chinese officials on Thursday, aiming to ease a trade standoff that's unnerved global investors and clouded the outlook for the world economy. A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He opened two days of talks in Washington with a U.S. team led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

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US home sales tumbled 1.2 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home sales fell 1.2 percent in January to their worst pace in more than three years, as persistent affordability problems have put a harsh chill in the real estate market. The National Association of Realtors says that sales of existing homes declined 1.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.94 million last month, the slowest sales rate since November 2015.

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Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Several companies, including AT&T and Nestle, pulled advertisements from YouTube this week over concerns about inappropriate comments on videos of children. A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids. The comments reportedly included timestamps that showed where kids innocently bared body parts.

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Ford begins probe into whether gas mileage was overstated

DETROIT (AP) — Ford Motor Co. has launched an investigation into whether flaws in an internal mathematical model may have caused it to overstate gas mileage and understate pollution from a wide range of vehicles. The company says a group of employees reported possible problems with the model in September, prompting the company to hire an outside firm to run tests. Testing will start with the 2019 Ford Ranger small pickup truck, and if problems are found, the company will start looking at models dating back to 2017.

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Oregon set to become 1st state with mandatory rent controls

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon is on track to becoming the first state to impose mandatory rent controls, with a measure establishing tenant protections moving through the Legislature. Residents testifying in support of the bill have described anxiety and hardship as they faced higher rents. Some rents have gone up by as much as almost 100 percent. That's forced people to move, stay with friends and even live in their vehicles.

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US says airfares hit new lows after factoring inflation

NEW YORK (AP) — Airfares within the US hit their lowest level since the government started keeping track in 1995, after adjusting for inflation. But that doesn't count extra fees for things like checking a bag or getting a better seat. Airline profits aren't as closely tied to fares as they once were, partly because carriers now make lots of money from deals with credit-card providers.

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US durable goods orders up 1.2 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods posted a 1.2 percent advance in December, but much of the strength came from a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, a notoriously volatile sector. In a worrisome development, a key category that tracks business investment fell for a second straight month.

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Applications for US jobless benefits fell to a low 216,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week, a sign that layoffs declined and hiring is likely strong. The Labor Department said weekly applications for unemployment benefits fell 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 216,000, a very low level by historical standards.

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White House ends California talks on mileage standards

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has broken off vehicle mileage standards talks with California, moving the two closer to a possible court battle that threatens to unsettle the auto industry. The White House said in a statement that the administration, which wants to freeze mileage standards, would now move unilaterally to "finalize a rule later this year with the goal of promoting safer, cleaner, and more affordable vehicles."

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Google to end forced arbitration for all worker disputes

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google says it will no longer require that its workers settle disputes with the company through arbitration, responding to months of pressure from employees. The company said Thursday that the change will take effect March 21 and will apply to current and future employees. Google said last year it would end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault cases.

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US stocks decline, breaking S&P 500's 3-day winning streak

NEW YORK (AP) — Health care and energy companies led U.S. stocks lower Thursday, ending a three-day winning streak for the S&P 500 and giving the benchmark index only its fourth loss this month. The modest sell-off came as investors weighed mixed economic data and company earnings reports while keeping an eye on Washington, where U.S. and Chinese negotiators resumed high-level talks aimed at ending their costly trade dispute. Treasury yields rose and the price of gold fell.

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The S&P 500 fell 9.82 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,774.88. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 103.81 points, or 0.4 percent, to 25,850.63. The Nasdaq composite declined 29.36 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,459.71. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave up 6.11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,575.55.