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Stocks in this article: FBGSJPMMSSIGSNETIF

About 67 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings. Overall revenue increased from the first quarter of 2011, bolstered by higher profits from loans and fees on customers' bank accounts.

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Weekly US jobless aid applications dip to 370,000

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The number of people seeking unemployment benefits changed little last week, signaling modest job growth.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for benefits dipped by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000.

Applications have leveled off this month after declining from April's five-month high of 392,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, has also dropped â¿¿ it was 370,000 last week.

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US durable goods orders up 0.2 percent in April

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Orders for long-lasting factory goods edged up slightly in April. But a measure of tracks business investment spending fell for a second straight month.

Durable goods orders increased 0.2 percent last month after a 3.7 percent decline in March, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Gains in volatile commercial aircraft orders and more demand for autos and parts drove the modest increase.

So-called core capital goods orders, which are considered a proxy for business investment plans, fell 1.9 percent in April after a 2.2 percent decline in March. Demand for computers and electronics products and heavy machinery fell.

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US 30-year mortgage rate falls to record 3.78 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The average U.S. rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low for a fourth straight week. Cheap mortgages have helped boost home sales modestly this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.78 percent. That's down from 3.79 percent last week and the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The average rate on 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular option for refinancing, held steady at 3.04, matching the record low hit last week.

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