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Most significantly the agency said it will not allow Verizon Wireless stores to sell TV and broadband services from the cable companies â¿¿ Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox â¿¿ in areas where Verizon sells its own TV and broadband service.

When it comes to home broadband, Verizon Communication Inc.'s FiOS provides the only significant competition to cable in many areas. Yet FiOS is costly to build out, and Verizon's commitment to the technology has faltered. Consumer groups who opposed the deal between the cable companies and Verizon said it showed that Verizon was further giving up on FiOS and yielding the home broadband market to cable.

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US unemployment aid applications up by only 2,000

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits edged up slightly last week but remained at a level consistent with modest gains in hiring.

Unemployment benefit applications rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 366,000, the Labor Department said. The less volatile four-week average fell by 5,500 to 363,750. That was the lowest level since late March.

Applications have trended lower in the past two months, indicating companies are laying off fewer workers and hiring is picking up. When applications fall consistently below 375,000, it generally suggests hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.

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US home construction dips, but signs point up

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ U.S. builders broke ground on slightly fewer homes in July than June. But in a hopeful sign for future construction, applications for building permits rose to their highest level since August 2008.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that single-family homes and apartments started in July dipped 1.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 746,000. That's down from June's rate of 754,000, the fastest since October 2008.

The weakness in July came from a 6.5 percent drop in the building of single-family homes, which represent about 70 percent of the market. They fell to an annual rate of 502,000, down from a two-year high reached in June. By contrast, construction of apartments rose 12.4 percent to an annual rate of 244,000 units.

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