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US unemployment aid applications stay at 370,000

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, suggesting modest but steady gains in the job market.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly unemployment aid applications stayed at a seasonally adjusted 370,000, the same level as the previous week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, fell from roughly 380,000 to 375,000.

Applications for benefits surged in April to a five-month high of 392,000. They have fallen back since then and are near the lowest levels in four years.

The decline suggests hiring could pick up in May after slumping in the previous two months. When applications drop below 375,000 a week, it generally suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

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Report: Fewer US homes foreclosed upon in April

LOS ANGELES (AP) â¿¿ National foreclosure trends took a positive turn in April, as the number of homes seized by banks declined and fewer properties entered into the foreclosure process.

But state-level data point to potentially more home repossessions ahead in Florida and many of the 25 other states where courts are required to sign off on foreclosures.

All told, the number of U.S. homes taken back by lenders in April declined 7 percent from March, the third consecutive monthly decline, foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday. Home repossessions fell 26 percent compared with April of last year.

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US 30-year mortgage rate falls to record 3.79 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Average U.S. rates for 30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages fell to record lows for the third straight week. The steady decline has made home-buying and refinancing more affordable than ever for those who can qualify.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.79 percent. That's down from 3.83 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

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