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Originally published Friday, September 18, 2009 at 2:23 PM

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Business Highlights

42 states lose jobs in August, up from 29 in July

The Associated Press

42 states lose jobs in August, up from 29 in July

WASHINGTON (AP) - Forty-two states lost jobs last month, up from 29 in July, with the biggest net payroll cuts coming in Texas, Michigan, Georgia and Ohio.

The Labor Department also reported Friday that 27 states saw their unemployment rates increase in August, and 14 states and Washington D.C., reported unemployment rates of 10 percent or above.

The report shows jobs remain scarce even as most analysts believe the economy is pulling out of the worst recession since the 1930s. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said earlier this week that the recovery isn't likely to be rapid enough to reduce unemployment for some time.

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Stock market resumes rally after one-day break

NEW YORK (AP) - Investors popped the stock market's rally back in gear Friday after analyst upgrades boosted optimism about the economy.

A 36-point advance in the Dow Jones industrial average to 9,820.20 left the index at a new high for the year and with a gain of 215 points for the week. Stock indexes have risen in nine of the past 11 days.

The market got a boost from a new economic forecast by Barclay's Capital, which raised its projection for growth in the nation's gross domestic product for first three months of next year to 5 percent from 3 percent. GDP has been shrinking, although many economists think it will return to growth for the July-September quarter.

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Geithner ends money market guarantee program

WASHINGTON (AP) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said an emergency program that had guaranteed as much as $3 trillion in assets in money market mutual funds was being allowed to expire Friday.

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"As the risk of catastrophic failure of the financial system has receded, the need for some of the emergency programs put in place during the most acute phase of the crisis has receded as well,' Geithner said in a brief statement.

Geithner had said last week that the financial system was healthy enough to begin unwinding some of the programs put in place a year ago after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the worst financial crisis in seven decades.

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FDIC chief considers tapping Treasury for funds

WASHINGTON (AP) - The chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says she is "considering all options, including borrowing from Treasury," to replenish the dwindling fund that insures bank deposits.

FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair's remarks go beyond what she said just three weeks ago when asked about tapping the Treasury after the fund that insures regular deposit accounts up to $250,000 hit its lowest point since 1992, at the height of the savings-and-loan crisis.

The FDIC estimates bank failures will cost the fund around $70 billion through 2013. Ninety-two banks have failed so far this year. Hundreds more are expected to fall in coming years largely because of souring loans for commercial real estate.

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Gov't home loan agency faces money squeeze

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Federal Housing Administration is tightening rules for lenders after reporting that its financial cushion will sink below mandatory levels for the first time in its 75-year history.

Officials, however, insisted Friday that the agency won't need a rescue. The agency doesn't expect to raise fees for borrowers or curtail the number of loans it insures, they said.

Amid the collapse of the subprime lending market, the government has taken up the slack. The FHA has insured nearly a quarter of all new loans made this year, and about 80 percent of that business is from first-time homebuyers.

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Microsoft sues over 'malicious' online advertising

NEW YORK (AP) - Microsoft Corp. has filed five lawsuits aimed at halting the flow of malicious online advertising.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker filed the claims Thursday in Washington state court against five unknown individuals under the business names Soft Solutions, DirectAd, qiweroqw.com, ITmeter INC. and ote2008.info.

Microsoft's associate general counsel, Tim Cranton, announced the move in a blog post.

The company is accusing the defendants of spreading so-called "malvertisements," ads that can end up infecting computers with damaging software.

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American Airlines Sept. traffic, capacity fall

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - American Airlines said on Friday that it expects its September traffic to fall 16.4 percent from August, as capacity drops 9.7 percent.

Airlines typically reduce flying after Labor Day, and other carriers have been making cuts, too. This year's fall schedules have been especially lean as airlines try to match their flying with reduced demand.

American said it expects third quarter unit revenue, or revenue divided by capacity, to fall 14.5 percent to 15.5 percent compared with the same period last year. Counting regional flying, unit revenue is expected to fall 14.3 percent to 15.3 percent.

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Sanofi buys Merck's half of animal health business

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA has completed its $4 billion purchase of Merck & Co.'s half interest in their veterinary medicine business, Merial Ltd., the companies said Friday.

The move was required by regulators before Merck can close its $41 billion purchase of New Jersey neighbor Schering-Plough Corp., which also sells animal health products.

Merial, a joint venture founded in 1997, sells two widely used pet medicines, flea-and-tick blocker Frontline and chewable heartworm preventer Heartgard. It also sells Ivomec, which kills parasites in hogs and cattle, and other medicines and vaccines for livestock.

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Big price jump for natural gas this week

NEW YORK (AP) - Natural gas prices have mostly moved in one direction this summer, down, and the vast caverns that hold it are close to reaching capacity. Yet since the beginning of the month prices have spiked 44 percent.

A record number of futures contracts were snapped up this week, most likely because buyers didn't see prices for natural gas getting much cheaper.

The jump in price would certainly be a troubling sign for people who use natural gas to heat their homes, save for the fact that, even with a 28 percent run-up this week, prices are still about a third of they were last year.

It's extremely cheap and no one expects that to change anytime soon.

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Ex-Morgan Stanley banker jailed for 7 years in HK

HONG KONG (AP) - An ex-Morgan Stanley banker was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison in Hong Kong's biggest insider trading case - an "unprecedented" scam a judge said undermined the integrity of this leading Asian financial center.

Du Jun, a former managing director of the Wall Street investment bank, also was fined about 23.3 million Hong Kong dollars (about $3 million).

The 41-year-old Beijing-native showed little emotion as a Hong Kong judge chastised him for his "greed" and "dishonesty and fraudulence." Du risked making the illegal trades even though he was earning well over $2 million a year at Morgan Stanley.

By The Associated Press

The Dow rose 36.28, or 0.4 percent, to 9,820.20.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.81, or 0.3 percent, to 1,068.30, while the Nasdaq composite index advanced 6.11, or 0.3 percent, to 2,132.86.

Benchmark crude for October delivery gave up 43 cents to settle at $72.04 a barrel.

Natural gas for October delivery added 32 cents Friday to settle at $3.778 per 1,000 cubic feet on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Gasoline for October delivery slipped 1.88 cents to settle at $1.8324 a gallon, and heating oil fell 1.3 cents to settle at $1.8279 a gallon.

At the pump, retail gas prices were unchanged at $2.55 a gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. A gallon of regular unleaded is 7.8 cents cheaper than last month and $1.285 cheaper than a year ago.

In London, Brent crude fell 23 cents to settle at $71.55 on the ICE Futures exchange.

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