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  • NEW YORK/ HOUSTON, July 31- Chemicals firm LyondellBasell, owned by Ukraine- born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik, has emerged as the mystery American buyer of Kurdish crude oil this year, but said on Thursday it will not be buying any more due to an ownership dispute.

  • *Tripoli fighting spreads to western city district. TRIPOLI, July 31- Clashes with artillery and rockets spread on Thursday into two Tripoli districts, where rival militia brigades were battling over the airport in Libya's worst fighting since the 2011 revolt that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

  • Joint Chiefs of Staff on Thursday that Moscow was committed to adhering to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Treaty after Washington accused Russia of violating the agreement.

  • WASHINGTON, July 31- U.S. consumers who purchase private health coverage through the federal Obamacare website HealthCare.gov are likely to find only modestly higher premiums but may still have technical problems signing up, a top health official said on Thursday.

  • TOKYO, July 31- Japan's economic risks over the medium term are tilted to the downside as the government could fail to deliver the additional reforms needed to lift potential growth and pare public debt, the International Monetary Fund said on Thursday.

  • FDA to start regulating lab-developed tests Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 12:10 PM ET

    WASHINGTON— The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it will begin regulating laboratory-developed tests, a growing class of medical diagnostics that have never before been subject to federal oversight.

  • IMF urges higher energy taxes to fight climate change Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 11:19 AM ET

    WASHINGTON, July 31- Energy taxes in much of the world are far below what they should be to reflect the harmful environmental and health impact of fossil fuels use, the International Monetary Fund said in a new book on Thursday.

  • Cracked rail caused 2012 Md. coal train derailment Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 | 11:10 AM ET

    WASHINGTON— A coal train derailment that killed two Maryland college students was caused by a broken rail, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday. The NTSB's conclusion was part of a 19- page report on its investigation into the 2012 derailment in Ellicott City.

  • WASHINGTON, July 31- The biggest U.S. banks' borrowing cost advantage over smaller competitors appears to have been reduced or eliminated since the 2007-2009 financial meltdown but could return in a crisis, a U.S. government official said on Thursday.

  • 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.

  • 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 said Thursday that the nationwide average for a 30- year loan slipped to 4.12 percent from 4.13 percent last week. But that's down from 10.8 percent in the previous month and was the smallest annual gain since February 2013.

  • 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.

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

    Though the U.S. unemployment rate has plunged since the start of last year to a five-year low of 6.1 percent, the Gallup Organization has found that consumers' view of the economy is the glummest it's been in seven months. 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.