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Business Highlights

The company is working as hard as ever, and we have some great stuff coming," Cook told shareholders Wednesday before taking their questions during Apple's annual meeting at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

True to Apple's secretive nature, Cook didn't provide any further product details, although at one point he said the company is considering entering other categories besides its popular line of digital music players, smartphones and tablet computers.

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Orders jump for key US long-lasting factory goods

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Orders for U.S. factory goods that signal business investment plans jumped last month by the most in more than a year, suggesting companies are confident about their business prospects.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for so-called core capital goods, which include industrial machinery, construction equipment and computers, rose 6.3 percent in January from December. A sharp fall in demand for commercial aircraft caused overall durable goods orders to drop 5.2 percent, the first decline since August.

Orders for commercial aircraft are volatile from month to month and can cause large swings in the overall figure. Boeing reported orders for only two planes in January, down from 183 in December. Orders for defense equipment also plummeted by the most in more than 12 years.

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US pending home sales rise to highest since 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) ⿿ A measure of the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes rose in January from December to the highest level in more than 2 ½ years. The increase suggests sales of previously occupied homes will continue rising in the coming months.

The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales rose 4.5 percent last month to 105.9. That's the highest since April 2010, when a homebuyer's tax credit was about to expire.

There is generally a one-to-two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale.

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