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  • WASHINGTON, Aug 7- Government-controlled mortgage finance firms Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said on Thursday they will pay U.S. taxpayers a combined $5.6 billion in dividends after another profitable quarter.

  • TEL AVIV, Aug 7- Israel's 2014 budget will be able to absorb the costs incurred during the month-long Gaza conflict and there will be no need to increases taxes, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said on Thursday.

  • *Islamic State strengthens foothold in northern Iraq. LONDON, Aug 7- Brent crude oil held near $105 a barrel on Thursday as the security situation deteriorated in northern Iraq and Islamist militants made gains against Kurdish forces, advancing closer to the autonomous region's oilfields.

  • Aug 7- The bankrupt Revel Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has postponed an auction of the 1,400- room property by a week to Aug. 14 to allow more time to evaluate bids, according to a court filing late on Wednesday.

  • *Egypt and Turkey among key customers for Russian grain. MOSCOW, Aug 7- Moscow's bans on various food imports from the United States and the European Union will have no impact on Russia's grain exports, agriculture minister Nikolai Fyodorov said on Thursday.

  • Aug 7- A U.S. weather forecaster scaled down its estimate for the chances of the El Nino weather phenomenon occurring during autumn and early winter in the Northern Hemisphere to 65 percent, from an earlier estimate of 80 percent. The Climate Prediction Center, an agency of the National Weather Service, had made its earlier prediction in July.

  • Aug 7- Online travel operator Orbitz Worldwide Inc forecast higher-than-expected revenue in the current quarter as an improving economy spurs spending on air travel and hotel bookings. Orbitz' shares fell 1.1 percent to $8.96 in early trading on Thursday.

  • Aug 7- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said on Thursday they would pay dividends totaling $5.6 billion to the U.S. Treasury next month, pushing taxpayers further into the black on their bailout of the mortgage finance firms.

  • *Islamic State strengthens foothold in northern Iraq. LONDON, Aug 7- Brent crude oil rose above $105 a barrel on Thursday as the security situation deteriorated in northern Iraq and Islamist militants made gains against Kurdish forces, advancing closer to the autonomous region's oilfields.

  • TORONTO, Aug 7- Manulife Financial Corp unexpectedly hiked its dividend for the first time since the financial crisis on Thursday, as it reported quarterly profits that jumped on stronger financial markets but was just shy of analysts' expectations.

  • *Cuts top end of FY earnings forecast to $3.45/ shr from $3.60/ shr. Aug 7- Mylan Inc shaved the top end of its full-year revenue and earnings forecasts, citing delays in approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for key generic drugs that it plans to launch this year.

  • Aug 7- Cargill Inc, a top global commodities trader, said on Thursday its quarterly earnings fell due to a loss stemming from Venezuela's currency exchange rate. The privately held company, based in Minneapolis, reported net earnings of $424 million for the fiscal fourth quarter ended May 31.

  • Aug 7- Harman International Industries Inc's fourth-quarter profit beat Wall Street estimates, helped by strong sales of car entertainment and home audio products.

  • *Russia originally blamed food standards from Polish apple ban. NOWE GROBICE, Poland, Aug 7- Slawomir Kedzierski's workers had just finished loading 20 tonnes of Polish apples onto two trucks destined for Russia when news came through of the embargo.

  • WEATHER FORECASTER LOWERS CHANCE OF EL NINO IN AUTUMN@. Aug 7- A U.S. weather forecaster decreased its outlook for the El Nino weather phenomenon in its monthly update on Thursday, estimating the chances of the weather pattern occurring during the Northern Hemisphere autumn and early winter at 65 percent.

  • Aug 7- 3 D printer maker Stratasys Ltd raised its forecast for 2014 adjusted profit and revenue after reporting better-than-expected quarterly results. Stratasys shares were up 14 percent in premarket trading.

  • WASHINGTON, Aug 7- The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to a further strengthening of labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits decreased by 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 289,000 for the week ended Aug. 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

  • Draghi says Ukraine crisis a risk to the euro zone Thursday, 7 Aug 2014 | 9:10 AM ET

    FRANKFURT, Aug 7- The crisis in Ukraine represents a risk to the euro zone economy, although the likely impact of European sanctions on Russia and retaliatory measures is uncertain, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

  • BRASILIA, Aug 7- Russia's ban on U.S. food products is a huge opportunity for Brazilian meat exports, Brazil's secretary of agriculture policy Seneri Paludo said on Thursday.

  • MILAN, Aug 7- Norway's sovereign wealth fund was the single largest shareholder to vote against Italian carmaker Fiat's merger with its U.S. unit Chrysler, according to minutes of the Aug. 1 shareholder meeting.