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Energetic stock market pushes toward milestones

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. stock market is back to setting records.

After treading water for most of March and April, stocks are nudging deeper into record territory and are closing in on milestones with lots of zeros attached to them. The Dow Jones industrial average is within 53 points of 17,000 while the Standard & Poor's 500 is just shy of 2,000 after rising 6 per cent this year.

A harsh winter in the U.S. that hobbled growth made investors cautious. There were also worries about the conflict in Ukraine and slowing growth in China, the world's second-biggest economy.

But now the economy appears to be on track again, and investors are rediscovering their appetite for stocks.

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Detroit 'Grand Bargain' vote key to bankruptcy end

DETROIT (AP) — An effort by deep-pocketed philanthropists to save the bankrupt city of Detroit's art treasures began with a chance meeting last year and culminated Friday when Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill authorizing millions in state help.

But all parties excited about the bill signing know that work could be for naught if the city's pensioners and workers, who are nearing a deadline for a historic vote on Detroit's plan to get out of bankruptcy, reject what has been dubbed the Grand Bargain.

The state's contribution of $195 million, along with $366 million from foundations and a $100 million pledge from the Detroit Institute of Arts, would replace hundreds of millions being cut from retiree pensions, while stopping bond insurers and other creditors from forcing the sell-off of city-owned art such as Van Gogh's "Self Portrait." The money would come over 20 years, placing the value at about $816 million.

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Facebook, Twitter, Google score during World Cup

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter and Facebook lit up in a World Cup frenzy this week as millions of people around the world took to social media to share in the ups and downs of the matches.

Defending champion Spain's stunning elimination Wednesday after a 2-0 defeat to Chile generated a lot of buzz, though not as much as the Cup's opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Google, meanwhile, tracked more than 641 million World Cup-related searches. In the week leading up the U.S. team's game against Ghana on Monday, there were 10 times more searches for the World Cup in the U.S. than for the NBA Finals, which were in progress at the time.

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Starbucks hiking prices on drinks, bagged coffee

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks is raising prices on some of its drinks by 5 cents to 20 cents starting next week, and customers can also soon expect to pay $1 more for the packaged coffee it sells in supermarkets.

The Seattle-based chain also raised prices on some of the drinks sold in its cafes a year ago. The latest hikes don't seem to be driven purely by the surging bean costs that have pressured other coffee sellers to raise prices, however, since Starbucks has said it already locked in its coffee contracts for the rest of this fiscal year and much of the next.

In March, CEO Howard Schultz said during an interview with Fox Business that Starbucks had no intentions of raising its prices.

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Unemployment rates fell in 20 US states in May

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment fell in 20 states last month and nearly three-quarters of the states added jobs, as the nation at large posted a fourth straight month of solid hiring.

Unemployment rates rose in 16 states and were unchanged in 14 states, the Labor Department said Friday. Meanwhile, hiring rose in 36 states and declined in 14.

The biggest drops in unemployment rates occurred in Illinois, where the rate fell to 7.5 per cent from 7.9 per cent, and Massachusetts, where it fell to 5.6 per cent from 6 per cent. Georgia reported the largest increase, to 7.2 per cent from 6.9 per cent.

Nationwide, employers added 217,000 jobs in May, the fourth straight month of gains above 200,000. That's the first such stretch since 1999. The unemployment rate remained at 6.3 per cent, matching a five-year low.

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Obama expands government benefits for gay couple

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year after the Supreme Court struck down a law barring federal recognition of gay marriages, the Obama administration granted an array of new benefits Friday to same-sex couples, including those who live in states where gay marriage is against the law.

The new measures range from Social Security and veterans benefits to work leave for caring for sick spouses. They are part of President Barack Obama's efforts to expand whatever protections he can offer to gays and lesbians even though more than half of the states don't recognize gay marriage. That effort has been confounded by laws that say some benefits should be conferred only to couples whose marriages are recognized by the states where they live, rather than the states where they were married.

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SEC chair White acting on bond market transparency

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. securities regulator said that she is taking steps aimed at making trading in the bond markets more transparent for investors.

Mary Jo White, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said Friday that technology and competition have benefited and transformed the stock market. But she says they have not yet had the same effect in the bond markets.

She said trading in the $11.3 trillion market in corporate bonds and the $3.7 trillion municipal-bond market continue to be dominated by big Wall Street firms, making it hard for investors to know whether they are being charged reasonable fees.

Her comments came in remarks to the Economic Club of New York.

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Drug maker Shire rejects offer from AbbVie

LONDON (AP) — The Dublin-based drugmaker Shire said Friday it has rejected an unsolicited 27 billion-pound ($46.2 billion) offer from AbbVie Inc., arguing that it fundamentally undervalues the company and its prospects.

The company said in a statement Friday that U.S.-based AbbVie's proposal was for 20.44 pounds ($34.78) and 0.7988 shares per Shire share. That values Shire stock at 46.11 pounds each — a 23 per cent premium to its price of 37.38 pounds on Thursday.

Based on the number of outstanding shares in the company, the deal values Shire at 27.1 billion pounds.

Besides the price, Shire PLC says its board also has concerns about company structure "as AbbVie would redomicile in the UK for tax purposes."

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France throws support behind GE offer for Alstom

PARIS (AP) — U.S. conglomerate General Electric Co. looked set Friday to win its months-long fight to acquire the power generation business of France's Alstom SA after the French government dropped its objections and threw its support behind the American offer.

The final decision rests with Alstom's board, which was meeting Friday night to discuss the offer. GE, which has sought a deal with Alstom since April, had given the French company until Monday to sign off on the $17 billion offer.

Friday's announcement brings an end to months of uncertainty over whether GE would win the French government's approval despite resistance from President Francois Hollande and other top officials.

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Stephanie Kwolek, Kevlar inventor, dies at 90

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Police Lt. David Spicer took four .45-calibre slugs to the chest and arms at point-blank range and lived to tell about it. Like thousands of other police officers and soldiers shot in the line of duty, he owes his life to a woman in Delaware by the name of Stephanie Kwolek.

Kwolek, who died Wednesday at 90, was a DuPont Co. chemist who in 1965 invented Kevlar, the lightweight, stronger-than-steel fiber used in bulletproof vests and other body armour around the world.

A pioneer as a woman in heavily male field, Kwolek made the breakthrough while working on specialty fibers at a DuPont laboratory in Wilmington. She developed a liquid crystalline solution that could be spun into exceptionally tough fibers, several times stronger by weight than steel.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average gained 25.62 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 16,947.08. The S&P 500 rose 3.39, or 0.2 per cent, to close at 1,962.87. The Nasdaq rose 8.71 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,368.04.

The price of U.S. benchmark crude for August delivery rose 83 cents to $107.26 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 25 cents to $114.81 a barrel in London, after setting a nine-month high the day before. Wholesale gasoline was flat at to $3.13 a gallon. Natural gas dropped 5 cents to $4.53 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil was flat at $3.05 a gallon.

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