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What wealth gap? Danish welfare narrows disparity

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — This is what it's like to live in Denmark, a nation with a narrower wealth gap than almost anywhere else: You've been jobless for more than a year. You have no university degree, no advanced skills. You have to pay a mortgage. And your husband is nearing retirement.

You aren't worried.

If you're 51-year-old Lotte Geleff, who lost her job as an office clerk in January 2013, you know you'll receive an unemployment benefit of 10,500 kroner ($1,902) a month after taxes for up to two years. You're part of a national system of free health care and education for everyone, job training, subsidized child care, a generous pension system and fuel subsidies and rent allowances for the elderly.

And high taxes.

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Why a grim US economic picture is brightening

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the government updates its estimate Wednesday of how the U.S. economy fared last quarter, the number is pretty sure to be ugly. Horrible even.

The economy likely shrank at an annual rate of nearly 2 per cent in the January-March quarter, economists estimate. That would be its bleakest performance since early 2009 in the depths of the Great Recession.

So why aren't economists, businesses or investors likely to panic?

Because most agree that the economy last quarter was depressed by temporary factors — particularly the blast of Arctic chill and snow that shuttered factories, disrupted shipping and kept Americans away from shopping malls and auto dealerships.

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Who put sleeping pills into Wall Street's water?

NEW YORK (AP) — Is the lack of fear on Wall Street something to fear?

Sunni extremists are inching closer to Baghdad. A housing bubble in China is deflating. Russia is massing troops near the Ukrainian border again. Military forces in Egypt and Thailand have staged coups.

In a world suddenly more dangerous, you'd think fund managers and traders would be selling and buying and selling again in a frenzy of second-guessing. Instead, they're the picture of calm and contentment.

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Review: Colors come to life in new Samsung tablet

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung's new Galaxy Tab S tablet looks different.

As soon as I turned on the screen, I noticed that the colours are stunning and vivid. Red looks redder, and greens are greener. The lawn and the trees in "Ghostbusters" look alive, as does a purple-tinted apparition.

The Tab S is also thinner than other leading tablets, at a quarter of an inch (6.6 millimeters). The model with the smaller screen is lighter, too.

Samsung Electronics Co. achieves all this by using a display technology previously limited to smartphones. It's called AMOLED, for active-matrix organic light-emitting diodes. Samsung released an AMOLED tablet in 2012, but it was expensive and didn't sell well. The new ones are priced more competitively — the same as iPads of comparable size.

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Abe's grand plan to revive Japan's economic might

TOKYO (AP) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a slew of measures Tuesday aimed at restoring Japan's global competitiveness. Past governments have sought and failed to enact many of the reforms Abe and other leaders say are needed to revamp an outdated post-World War II industrial model and sustain growth for decades to come.

Resource-scarce Japan needs exports and other overseas earnings to pay for imports of fuel and food to feed its 127 million people. While Toyota Motor Corp. is the No. 1 automaker, other big icons of Japan Inc., like Sony Corp., are losing out to rivals like Korea's Samsung Electronics Co.

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San Francisco to app: Curb parking space auctions

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's new crackdown on a mobile app that allows people to auction off their public parking spots marks yet another clash between innovative technologies and regulators trying to maintain law and order, public safety and a sense of social decorum.

The app, called MonkeyParking, allows drivers who score a notoriously hard-to-get San Francisco parking spot to sell it for $5, $10, even $20 and then hang out there until the buyer arrives to take their place.

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Stocks end lower as traders sell blue chips

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market had its biggest decline in two weeks Tuesday, led by a sell-off in blue chip bank and energy stocks. Homebuilders rose after the government reported sales of new homes rose in May to the highest level in six years.

The late-afternoon selling came during a relatively quiet week for Wall Street. Traders said the selling might be tied to large mutual funds having to rebalance their portfolios ahead of the end of the quarter next week. Other traders pointed to the ongoing violence in Iraq as a reason to pull out of the market ahead of the end of the quarter.

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US consumer confidence reaches a 6-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumers are more confident about the economy than they have been in more than six years.

The Conference Board's confidence index rose to 85.2 this month from a revised 82.2 in May, the private research group said Tuesday. The June figure is the highest since January 2008, a month after the Great Recession officially began.

More Americans are optimistic about business conditions and the outlook for jobs, though fewer expect their incomes will grow over the next six months.

The index compiled by the Conference Board shows that confidence has been rising steadily since bottoming at 25.3 in February 2009. It's well above last year's average of 72.3. But it still hasn't returned to full health. Before the recession, the index usually topped 90.

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US home prices rise at slowest pace in 13 months

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices rose in April from a year ago at the slowest pace in 13 months, reflecting a recent drop-off in sales.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 10.8 per cent in April from 12 months earlier. That's a healthy gain, but down from 12.4 per cent in the previous month and the smallest since March 2013.

Annual price gains slowed in 19 of the 20 cities. Only Boston saw price increases accelerate.

Home sales have slowed since last summer as higher mortgage rates and rising prices and have made it harder for would-be buyers to afford a home. Sales of existing homes in May were 5 per cent lower than 12 months earlier.

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Study: Recession and recovery widen US wealth gap

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Great Recession and the slow recovery have sharply widened the gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else, according to a study that underscores the unevenness of wealth gains since the recession ended.

The richest 5 per cent had 24 times the wealth of the median household in 2013 — up substantially from 16.5 times as much in 2007, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers.

Substantial gains in the stock market have enabled richer Americans to regain much of their wealth. Stock prices had plunged by nearly half during the recession but have recovered all their losses and set new highs. And roughly 10 per cent of households own 80 per cent of stocks.

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Boehner backs off support for Export-Import bank

WASHINGTON (AP) — Faced with conservative opposition, House Speaker John Boehner is declining to take a position on renewing the Export-Import Bank even though he's supported it in the past. His new stance deals a blow to a top priority of the business community.

The Ohio Republican told reporters Tuesday that he has a different job now and needs to work with GOP lawmakers to make sure they're comfortable with what he called a "rather controversial subject."

The government agency provides loans, loan guarantees and credit insurance to help foreign buyers purchase American-made products. Its charter expires in September, and without legislation, it would not be able to back new loans.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 119.13 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 16,818.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 12.63 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 1,949.98 and the Nasdaq composite fell 18.32 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,350.36.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery dropped 14 cents to $106.03 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 34 cents to $114.46 a barrel in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $3.13 a gallon. Natural gas rose 9 cents to $4.54 per 1,000 cubic feet. Heating oil rose 1 cent to $3.04 a gallon.

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