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Business Highlights

By The Associated Press

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Japan central bank revamps policy to boost economy

TOKYO (AP) â¿¿ Japan is taking aggressive action to lift consumer prices, encourage borrowing and help pull the world's third-largest economy out of a long slump.

Like the U.S. Federal Reserve, Japan's central bank plans to flood its financial system with more money â¿¿ its most far-reaching step to date to get consumers and companies to borrow and spend.

The Bank of Japan's action will also drive down the value of the yen. A cheaper currency will make Japanese goods â¿¿ from Toyota cars to Sony TVs â¿¿ less costly overseas. And it will make U.S. and other exports more expensive in Japan.

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Where US economy has, and hasn't, yet recovered

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ From household wealth to spending at stores, many of the U.S. economy's vital signs have recovered from the damage done by the Great Recession.

Home foreclosures and layoffs have dropped to pre-recession levels. Economic output has rebounded. And the Dow Jones industrial average is in record territory.

So is the economy back to full health? Not quite.

Not with unemployment at 7.7 percent and with 3 million fewer jobs than when the recession began. And while the housing market is improving, that engine of economic growth and job creation still has far to go before it can be declared healthy.

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US rate on 30-year mortgage slips to 3.54 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages crept closer to their historic lows this week, a trend that could help the housing recovery strengthen.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for the 30-year fixed loan edged down to 3.54 percent from 3.57 percent last week. That's near the 3.31 percent reached in November, which was the lowest on records dating to 1971.

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