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  • NEW YORK, July 31- The U.S. dollar edged higher against a basket of major currencies on Thursday after U.S. labor market data bolstered expectations for a more hawkish Federal Reserve and reinforced optimism for a strong U.S. nonfarm payrolls report Friday.

  • FREETOWN, July 31- Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine Ebola victims on Thursday, joining neighboring Liberia in imposing tough controls as the death toll from the worst-ever outbreak of the virus hit 729 in West Africa. The WHO reported 57 new deaths between July 24 and July 27 in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

  • Beyond oil and reserves, Russia running on empty Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 10:09 AM ET

    MOSCOW, July 31- For all the sanctions Western leaders can throw at Russia, the biggest threat to President Vladimir Putin's ability to back separatists in east Ukraine is something beyond his or their control: the price of oil.

  • Average US 30-year mortgage rate at 4.12 percent Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 10:09 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— Average U.S. mortgage rates declined slightly this week, hovering near their lows for the year. Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30- year loan slipped to 4.12 percent from 4.13 percent last week.

  • As US job market strengthens, many don't feel it Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 9:01 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— The U.S. unemployment rate has plunged since the start of last year to a five-year low of 6.1 percent. At 53, Hunter now works three days a week for $9.25 an hour, mopping floors and fixing fryers at two McDonald's restaurants in Chicago. The Gallup Organization has found that consumers' view of the economy is the glummest it's been in seven months.

  • US jobless aid applications rise to 302,000 Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 8:36 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remain at pre-recession levels. Weekly applications for unemployment aid rose 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

  • FREETOWN/ ACCRA, July 31- Sierra Leone declared a state of emergency and called in troops to quarantine epicenters of Ebola on Thursday, joining Liberia in imposing tough controls to curb the worst ever outbreak of the virus amid fears it could spread beyond West Africa.

  • WASHINGTON— Applications for US unemployment benefits increase to 302 k; still at pre-recession levels.

  • Ahead of the Bell: Unemployment Benefits Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 6:18 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— The U.S. Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. The report will be released Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. INCREASE EXPECTED: Economists forecast that weekly applications rose to 302,000, according to a survey by FactSet.

  • *Netanyahu presses assault, sends envoys to Cairo. *U.N. outraged at refugee deaths at Gaza shelter.

  • *India digs in heels as WTO trade deal deadline looms. NEW DELHI/ SYDNEY, July 31- The United States raised the issue of a stalled trade agreement during talks with India's finance minister on Thursday, a source at the meeting said, hours before a deadline passes for New Delhi to sign a deal backers say would boost the global economy.

  • Philanthropist calls for saving Corcoran in court Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 4:44 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— Wayne Reynolds, a leading Washington philanthropist, laid out an alternative plan in court hearings this week to save one of the nation's oldest museums and its college as a judge considers whether to break up the nearly 150- year-old Corcoran Gallery of Art.

  • Obama cracks down on labor breaches by contractors Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 2:45 AM ET

    The order also requires that workers be given information each pay period to help them to determine whether their paychecks are accurate, White House officials said.

  • *Asia's Iran imports rise 31 pct y/y to 1 mln bpd in June. TOKYO, July 31- Iran's biggest clients took in a quarter more oil in the first six months of 2014 than in the same period of last year, with China and India holding to the higher volumes they started after the agreement that relaxed Western sanctions on Tehran.

  • July 31- A group of World Trade Organization members has informally discussed adopting a global overhaul of customs rules without India if New Delhi goes ahead with threats to block the deal, sources familiar with the talks said on Thursday.

  • As US economy accelerates, Fed remains cautious Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 12:02 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— After a grim start to 2014, the U.S. economy has rebounded with vigor and should show renewed strength into next year. That was the general view of analysts Wednesday after the government estimated that the economy grew at a fast 4 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter. Consumers, businesses and governments combined to fuel the expansion.

  • DIARY - Top economic Events to Aug 13 Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 | 8:00 PM ET

    KOBE, Japan- Bank of Japan board member Takahide Kiuchi speaks to business leaders in Kobe. ROME- French Finance minister Michel Sapin visits Rome. TOKYO- Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda speaks at seminar hosted by Naigai-Josei Chosa-kai in Tokyo- 0330 GMT.

  • SAN FRANCISCO, July 30- HealthTap Chief Executive Officer Ron Gutman believes paying the doctor a visit is expensive and time-consuming. On Wednesday, the Palo Alto- based startup, which is backed by investor Vinod Khosla, introduced a virtual-consult service called HealthTap Prime.

  • NEW YORK, July 30- Chemicals firm LyondellBasell, owned by Ukraine- born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, appears to be the mystery American buyer of two cargoes of Kurdish crude delivered in May, according to U.S. government data and industry sources.

  • J&J withdraws fibroid treatment device from market Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 | 6:55 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— Johnson& Johnson is asking surgeons not to use a line of devices for removing growths from the uterus amid regulators' growing concern that the electronic surgical tools raise the risk of spreading cancer to other parts of the body. The company cited an FDA meeting earlier this month that reinforced "the complexity of this issue."