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Stocks end rough quarter with more questions

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The stock market closed out a painful second quarter Wednesday and left investors with heavy losses and far more doubts about the economy than they had just months ago.

Stocks had their worst quarterly performance since the financial crisis. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, considered by many professional investors to be the best measure of the market's health, lost 11.9 percent, while the Dow Jones industrial average lost 10 percent to 9,774.02. Both indexes are at their lows for 2010.

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Jobless rates drop in two-thirds of metro areas

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Unemployment rates in roughly two-thirds of the nation's largest metropolitan areas dipped in May as the gradual economic recovery spurred some hiring.

An analysis of Labor Department data released Wednesday found that jobless rates dropped in 237 of 382 areas in May from April. It rose in 118 areas and was flat in 27.

The figures aren't adjusted to account for seasonal trends, such as lifeguards hired during the summer or retail clerks let go after the holiday shopping season. So they tend to be volatile from month to month.

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Mortgage applications rise 9 percent after rates fall

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Applications for mortgages rose last week as consumers refinanced their loans at the lowest rates in more than 50 years.

Overall applications increased nearly 9 percent from a week earlier, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday. But the growth in borrowing came from applications to refinance home loans and not to make new purchases.

Refinancings were up 13 percent, the highest level since May 2009. But they remain about half the level of early 2009, partly because many people who wanted and were able to refinance have already done so. Refinancing costs can total several thousand dollars

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