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  • The homebuilder and mortgage company breezed past Wall Street expectations and shares at one point traded close to $914, a seven-year high. On Thursday, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported that the rate on the 30- year fixed mortgage fell near its record low, while the 15- year fixed mortgage set a record low of 2.66 percent.

  • BATON ROUGE, La.-- Lawmakers scrapped a planned vote Thursday on Louisiana Gov. The delay was announced a day before the scheduled hearing of the House and Senate budget committees to review the proposed contract between the Office of Group Benefits and Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

  • CHICAGO-- A leading venture capital firm is opening an office in Chicago, giving a boost to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's efforts to attract high-tech businesses and entrepreneurs to the city.

  • ATLANTA-- Georgia labor officials say the state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent in September, which is down from 9.2 percent in August. The Georgia Department of Labor announced the figures early Thursday morning.

  • BRUSSELS-- European leaders were drawing battle lines Thursday as they headed for a summit in Brussels, with France pushing back against Germany's call for a new czar with wide powers to veto countries' budgets.

  • JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.-- Missouri's Insurance Department says it has recovered $7.7 million so far this year for consumers with complaints about their insurance companies or coverage.

  • NEW YORK-- A new exhibition is hailing the fashion sense of Katharine Hepburn, whose trademark khakis and open-collar shirts were decidedly unconventional in the 1930 s and 40 s, when girdles and stockings were the order of the day.

  • WASHINGTON-- Manufacturing in the Philadelphia region expanded in October following five months of declines, a positive sign for a U.S. manufacturing sector which had been weakening for much of the year. The better-than-expected reading from the Philadelphia survey followed a positive report on national manufacturing conditions.

  • GRAND ISLAND, Neb.-- North Dakota- based Titan Machinery Inc. says it's buying three CaseIH agriculture equipment dealerships in Nebraska. Titan, of West Fargo, N.D., says it is acquiring Toner's Inc., which operates Toner's in Grand Island, Red Line Equipment in Broken Bow and Ord Equipment in Ord.

  • SOFT SEPTEMBER: All the big airlines reported traffic declines in September, and Southwest said pricing was soft that month. STILL PROFITABLE: Southwest Airlines Co. still posted a $16 million profit for the quarter. WHAT'S NEXT: Delta Air Lines and US Airways report results on Wednesday, and United Continental is on Thursday.

  • BRUNSWICK, Ga.-- Business jet manufacturer Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. says it plans to add about 35 employees to its operations in Brunswick, Ga. to keep up with an expanding workload finishing aircraft. Mark Burns, president of Gulfstream Product Support, says the move will increase the company's workforce in Brunswick by about 20 percent.

  • ENFIELD, Conn.-- Northeast Utilities says it is helping to preserve a large chunk of land in northern Connecticut in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

  • WASHINGTON-- Medical device maker Boston Scientific said Thursday it swung to a third-quarter loss, as legal fees and restructuring expenses weighed down already-sluggish sales of the company's implants.

  • NEW YORK-- The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of " Clybourne Park" says he recently withdrew permission for a Berlin theater company to produce the play after learning that one of the actors would perform the roles in blackface.

  • BEIRUT-- Syrian warplanes hammered a strategic city captured by rebels, leaving behind scenes of carnage captured Thursday on amateur videos that showed a man holding up two child-sized legs not connected to a body and another carrying a dismembered arm.

  • JACKSON, Miss.-- A line of severe storms packing strong winds and possible tornadoes swept across the Southeast overnight, injuring four people in Mississippi, downing power lines and trees and damaging homes around the region, authorities said early Thursday. At least six northern counties in Mississippi reported damage, Rent said.

  • OLYMPIA, Wash.-- Washington state is still adding jobs, but the growth in employment isn't as robust as it was a few months ago, officials said Wednesday. The state Employment Security Department said the unemployment rate dipped down to 8.5 percent in September from 8.6 percent in August.