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  • FAIRFAX, Va., Oct 5- President Barack Obama on Friday hailed a drop in the U.S. jobless rate to the lowest level since he took office, saying the country had "come too far to turn back now," as he sought to recover from a lackluster debate performance against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

  • ABINGDON, Va.-- The cheering stopped on Mitt Romney's campaign plane Friday morning. The day before, aides had whistled and clapped when the Denver control tower commended the Republican presidential nominee's debate performance.

  • WASHINGTON-- The U.S. unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent for the first time since the month President Barack Obama took office, a surprising lift for both the economy and his re-election hopes in the final weeks of the campaign. It fell because a government survey of households found that 873,000 more people had jobs, the biggest jump since January 2003.

  • *Nonfarm payrolls rose 114,000 in September* Unemployment rate falls to 7.8 percent, lowest since 2009* Household survey shows most job gains since 1983* Average hourly earnings gain 7 cents* Report is second to last before Nov. 6 elections By Lucia Mutikani.

  • WASHINGTON-- The Supreme Court agreed Friday to hear a dispute between a soybean farmer and Monsanto Co. over the company's efforts to limit farmers' use of its patented, genetically engineered Roundup Ready seeds.

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct 5- The number of people stricken with a rare form of meningitis linked to steroid injections rose to 47 in seven U.S. states, the Centers for Disease Control said on Friday, but the number of people killed by the outbreak remained at five. Other states with cases are Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana.

  • And the 7.8 percent September unemployment rate, down from 8.1 percent in August, was clearly welcome to President Barack Obama. That was so for both Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. For Reagan, unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent in November and December 1982.

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn., Oct 5- Tennessee confirmed on Friday four more cases of rare fungal meningitis, as health officials in 23 states scrambled to notify thousands of patients who received steroid injections linked to an outbreak that has killed five people. Three of the dead were in Tennessee, where the outbreak began, and one each in Virginia and Maryland.

  • FAIRFAX, Va., Oct 5- President Barack Obama on Friday hailed a drop in the U.S. jobless rate to the lowest level since he took office, saying the country has "come too far to turn back now," as he sought to recover from a lackluster debate performance against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

  • Drilling companies beginning to explore the Utica Shale got a piece of good news Friday when the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the rock formation in Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states holds enormous reserves of natural gas and oil.

  • *Nonfarm payrolls rose 114,000 in September* Unemployment rate falls to 7.8 percent, lowest since 2009* Household survey shows most job gains since 1983* Average hourly earnings gain 7 cents* Report is second to last before Nov. 6 elections By Lucia Mutikani.

  • RICHMOND, Va.-- Virginia's poultry industry provides nearly 14,000 jobs and has an economic impact totaling more than $8 billion, according to a study released Friday. The report found that the poultry and egg industries in Virginia provide 13,480 direct jobs and indirectly contribute to a total of 41,710 jobs.

  • WASHINGTON-- The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years and giving President Barack Obama a potential boost with the election a month away.

  • FAIRFAX, Va.-- President Barack Obama says an encouraging jobs report shows that the country has made too much progress to turn back to the policies that he says led the nation into an economic crisis. At a campaign event in suburban Washington, Obama said the report was "a reminder that this country has come too far to turn back now."

  • FAIRFAX, Virginia, Oct 5- President Barack Obama on Friday hailed the drop in the U.S. jobless rate in September to the lowest level since he took office as a "a reminder this country has come too far to turn back now."

  • AIRING: This ad by the Obama campaign is airing in the closely contested states of Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. SCRIPT: Republican nominee Mitt Romney said in the first presidential debate that he's "not in favor of a $5 trillion tax cut. It cuts to an image of NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell citing the Tax Policy Center report.

  • RICHMOND, Va.-- Twenty-two projects that will promote Virginia's specialty crops have received federal funding. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says the $496,000 in grant money is for crops ranging from wine grapes to Christmas trees. The individual grants range from $5,000 to $30,000.

  • The Parasail Safety Council, which tracks injuries and deaths nationwide, reports more than 70 people have been killed and at least 1,600 injured between 1982 and 2012, out of an estimated 150 million parasail rides during those 30 years.

  • NORFOLK, Va.-- Virginia International Terminals Inc. defended its record as the operator for the Virginia Port Authority on Thursday, saying its past success is irrefutable. The state created Virginia International Terminals in 1983.. VIT promotes Virginia and Virginia only, "said Joseph Ruddy, executive vice president for Virginia International Terminals.

  • WASHINGTON-- Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is shifting sharply to the political center as he begins to deliver a closing argument aimed at a slice of moderate, undecided voters a month before Election Day.