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    Pending home sales rise sharply, point to stronger market
    A real estate sales sign sits outside of a house for sale in Phoenix, ArizonaAmericans signed more contracts in July to buy previously-owned homes than in any month in almost a year, suggesting the housing market was pulling out of its slump more quickly than expected. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said on Thursday its Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, rose 3.3 percent to 105.9, the highest level since August 2013.
    BP says Whiting refinery still in production after fire
    Signage for a BP petrol station is pictured in LondonBP Plc said its largest U.S. BP said operations at the 413,500 barrel per day (bpd) Whiting refinery "were minimally impacted as a result of the incident and the refinery continues to produce products for customers." Genscape, an energy information service provider, said all monitored units were operating normally except for the Blending Oil Unit, which shut at 9:04 p.m. That unit removes sulfur from distillate and gas oil streams, according to Genscape. The Board, which investigates larger refinery fires, drew that conclusion after a report into a fire at a Chevron refinery. The Whiting refinery is the seventh-largest refinery in the United States and the largest outside of the Gulf Coast.
    U.S. second-quarter growth much stronger; jobless claims fall again
    A construction site is seen in Silver Spring MarylandGross domestic product expanded at a 4.2 percent annual rate instead of the previously reported 4.0 percent pace, the Commerce Department said on Thursday, reflecting upward revisions to business spending and exports. While trade was a drag for a second consecutive quarter, export growth was raised to a 10.1 percent pace from a 9.5 percent rate.
    U.S. jobless claims fall for second consecutive week
    Job seekers stand in line to meet prospective employers at a career fair in New York CityThe number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell for a second straight week last week, underscoring the strengthening labor market fundamentals. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 for the week ended Aug. 23, the Labor Department said on Thursday. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data. The jobless claims report showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid increased 25,000 to 2.53 million in the week ended Aug. 16.
    JPMorgan confirms it is investigating possible cyber attack
    JP Morgan Chase & Co sign outside headquarters in New YorkBOSTON (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co is investigating a possible cyber attack and working with law enforcement to determine the scope, company spokeswoman Trish Wexler said. The bank is taking additional steps to safeguard sensitive or confidential information, though it not seeing unusual fraud activity at this time, she said. (Reporting by Jim Finkle)
    Dollar General says committed to Family Dollar deal
    A price sign at a Dollar General store in Arvada, ColoradoDollar General shares fell 1 percent in light premarket trading after the company also reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales and comparable-store sales and cut the top end of its full-year comparable-store sales forecast. Family Dollar last week rejected a $9 billion buyout offer from Dollar General that it said could run foul of competition law, opting instead for a smaller bid from Dollar Tree. "We continue to believe the potential antitrust issues are manageable and that our transaction as proposed is both superior and achievable," Dollar General Chief Executive Rick Dreiling said in a statement on Thursday. "The financial benefits of our offer to Family Dollar shareholders are indisputable." The company reported same-store sales growth of 2.1 percent in second quarter ended Aug. 1.
    U.S. futures fall as Ukraine fears return to forefront
    Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange* Bank stocks may be in focus after the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was investigating media reports that several U.S. * Ukraine accused Russia of mounting an invasion in the southeast of the country in support of pro-Moscow separatist rebels. The country's security and defense council said that the border town of Novoazovsk and other parts of Ukraine's south-east had fallen under the control of Russian forces.
    Judge rejects Apple bid for injunction against Samsung
    Picture illustration of Apple's iPhone 5 and Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S4 taken in SeoulApple won a $120 million jury verdict against Samsung earlier this year over three Apple patents. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, on Wednesday denied Apple's request to stop Samsung from selling infringing features on its smartphones related to those patents. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
    China Huarong says Goldman, Warburg, others to buy $2.4 billion stake
    A man walks in front of China Life headquarters building at Beijing's Financial StreetHONG KONG (Reuters) - China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd, the country's biggest bad-debt manager, said on Thursday regulators have approved a deal for it to sell a 20.98 percent stake to a consortium of eight investors for 14.5 billion yuan ($2.4 billion). The deal for new shares in the company is to raise funds for Huarong ahead of a planned initial public offering, Reuters reported in July. The consortium includes China Life Insurance (Group) Co , U.S. private equity firm Warburg Pincus [WP. ...
    German joblessness up slightly in August, rate steady at 6.7 percent
    The entrance of the Jobcenter in EichstaettBERLIN (Reuters) - German unemployment posted a small but unexpected increase in August but the jobless rate held steady at just 6.7 percent, the Labour Office said on Thursday, suggesting the job market in Europe's largest economy remains intact. The number of people out of work increased by 1,000 to 2.901 million, seasonally-adjusted data showed. The mid-range forecast in a Reuters poll had been for a drop of 5,000. (Reporting by Michelle Martin)
    Telecom Italia bids $9.25 billion for Vivendi's GVT
    Telecom Italia tower in RomeTelecom Italia said on Thursday it had offered to buy Vivendi's Brazilian unit GVT in a cash-and-share offer that values the broadband company 7 billion euros ($9.25 billion). The offer, which also envisages a merger between GVT and Telecom Italia's own Brazilian unit Tim Participacoes, outbids a 6.7 billion euros offer unveiled by Spanish telecom group Telefonica on Aug. 5. Telecom Italia said its deal would result in Vivendi taking a stake of around 20 percent in Italy's biggest phone company by market share. Telecom Italia did not offer detailed financial elements of its bid but said the bid was made up of 24 percent in cash and around 76 percent in shares.
    Bitcoin shows staying power as online merchants chase digital sparkle
    A customer prepares to use a Bitcoin ATM located in Flat 128, a boutique in New York's West VillageBy Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Michael Connor NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin is catching on at U.S. "Retail payments aren't broken."     There are also worries about bitcoin's volatility: its price in U.S.

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