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Many seek new homes near cities but are priced out

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans increasingly say they prefer to live near the centres of cities and towns, where commutes are typically shorter and culture, restaurants and entertainment close by. It marks a shift away from the yearning for open suburban space that drove U.S. home construction for decades.

But it carries a costly trade-off: Land in many cities has surged in price. And fewer Americans can now afford newly built homes in the walkable neighbourhoods they desire.

The average price of a newly built home nationwide has reached $320,100 — a 20.5 per cent jump since 2012 began. That puts a typical new home out of reach for two-thirds of Americans, according to government data.

Yet many builders have made a calculated bet: Better to sell fewer new homes at higher prices than build more and charge less.

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Oil boom produces jobs bonanza for archaeologists

TIOGA, N.D. (AP) — Drilling crews are eager to plunge their equipment into the ground. Road builders are ready to start highway projects, and construction workers need to dig.

But across the hyperactive oil fields of North Dakota, these and other groups often must wait for another team known for slow, meticulous study — archaeologists, whose job is to survey the land before a single spade of dirt can be turned.

The routine surveys have produced a rare jobs bonanza in American archaeology, a field in which many highly educated professionals hop from project to project around the world and still struggle to make a living. The positions also come with a constant tension: The archaeologists are trained to find evidence of the past, but the companies that pay them would prefer not to turn up anything that gets in the way of profits.

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China's startups hope for boom after Alibaba IPO

BEIJING (AP) — China might seem an odd choice for young tech entrepreneurs. Instead of innovation and risk taking, the country is more associated with state domination of the economy, rampant intellectual property theft and heavy duty government censorship of social media.

Perceptions, however, are changing. The high profile success of Jack Ma's e-commerce company Alibaba, which is planning a giant initial public offering in the U.S. this year, has drawn attention to how the former startup outmanoeuvred eBay in China to become the world's biggest online bazaar. More recently, use of smartphones and the mobile Internet has grown explosively, creating new opportunities for e-commerce and other tech ventures.

Alibaba and a handful of other online ventures are the most visible examples of companies that began with a startup ethos and thrived despite bumps along the way.

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Brazil, other markets are no longer 'Fragile Five'

NEW YORK (AP) — Soccer fans will focus on Brazil and the start of the World Cup Thursday, but investors have been entranced by that nation's stock market for months.

Brazil has company. From Sao Paulo to Mumbai, investors are regaining their faith in emerging markets this year.

It's a big shift from 2013, when investment in those markets dried up because of worries about their slowing economic growth. It got so tough that five big developing markets — Brazil, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Turkey — were dubbed the "Fragile Five" by analysts at Morgan Stanley.

Now those countries are much more appealing to investors. Some have taken actions to strengthen their economies. Others have gone through political changes that have bolstered investor confidence. At the same time, slower growth in the U.S. has made investing overseas more alluring.

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Tweet self-propagates through TweetDeck, Twitter shuts down application

NEW YORK (AP) — A tweet containing a snippet of computer code propagated itself through Twitter Wednesday by taking advantage of a security flaw in the company's TweetDeck application.

In response, Twitter shut down the application's access to tweets for about an hour while fixing the problem.

The two-line message was automatically "retweeted," or sent out again, when received by TweetDeck, a computer application for Twitter's power users. Affected tweeters saw pop-up windows on their screens. The tweet was sent out tens of thousands of times, but left its victims otherwise unharmed.

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Stocks fall back as World Bank cuts growth outlook

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market fell back from record levels Wednesday because of a weaker forecast for global growth and concerns about airline profits.

Delta Air Lines and other carriers fell after Germany's Lufthansa warned of smaller profits. Boeing slid after analysts said that most of the good news about the plane maker was already priced into the stock.

Stocks opened lower after the World Bank predicted weaker global growth this year, citing a tough winter in America and the political crisis in Ukraine. The bank said late Tuesday that it expects the world economy to grow 2.8 per cent this year instead of the 3.2 per cent it predicted in January.

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Lew says economy still facing major challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Wednesday that the economy should grow at much stronger rates the rest of this year as the country overcomes the impact of a harsh winter. But Lew said millions of Americans continue to struggle as unemployment remains too high and economic growth is too slow.

In his remarks, which were distributed in Washington, Lew called for actions by the government and the private sector to boost hiring of the long-term unemployed and increase investment in productivity-enhancing equipment and critical infrastructure projects such as roads, railways and ports.

Lew said the country also needed a stronger commitment to education in the areas of science, math and engineering to make sure students have the skills they need to compete in the new economy.

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US records $130 billion budget deficit in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government's monthly budget returned to deficit in May after a big April surplus. But the overall imbalance so far is far smaller than it was the same period last year, putting the country on track for the lowest annual deficit in six years.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the May deficit totalled $130 billion after a surplus of $106.9 billion in April, a month when the government usually runs surpluses because of a flood of tax revenues.

For the first eight months of this budget year, the deficit totals $436.4 billion, down 30 per cent from $626.3 billion for the same period in 2013. It was the smallest imbalance since 2008. The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting a deficit of $492 billion for the full budget year ending Sept. 30.

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EU investigates Apple, Starbucks, Fiat tax deals

AMSTERDAM (AP) — The European Union's antitrust regulator has launched an investigation into tax deals that Apple, Starbucks and Fiat struck with some European countries, the start of a wider push to keep multinationals from taking advantage of loopholes.

EU antitrust commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Wednesday a preliminary probe by his office has found the tax deals the companies have with Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg could amount to illegal state aid.

Apple has a deal with tax authorities in Ireland, Starbucks has one in the Netherlands and Fiat's financing arm has one in Luxembourg as part of their strategy to minimize the taxes they pay.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped 102.04 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 16,843.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.90 points, or 0.4 per cent, to close at 1,943.89. The Nasdaq slipped 6.07 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,331.93.

Benchmark U.S. oil for July delivery rose 5 cents to $104.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude gained 43 cents to $109.95 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 3 cents to $3.00 a gallon. Natural gas slipped 2 cents to $4.51 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil added 2 cents to $2.90 a gallon.

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