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Jobless benefit rolls post first dip since January

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ The total number of people on the unemployment insurance rolls dropped for the first time since early January, the government said Thursday, while new claims for benefits rose slightly.

The report shows that job losses are easing after companies made deep cuts earlier this year. But nearly half of recipients at the end of last month had exhausted the 26 weeks of benefits provided under the regular state program without finding work, according to Labor Department data. That's a record and compared with about 36 percent in December 2007, when the recession began.

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Senate questions Obama's financial oversight plan

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ President Barack Obama's plan to increase oversight of banks and other financial institutions met with skepticism on Capitol Hill on Thursday, where senators sharply questioned whether it was enough to prevent another economic meltdown.

The lack of a ringing endorsement suggests the proposal was headed for a rewrite by a Congress sensitive to voter frustration with the government's handling of the economy.

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