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Last Update on February 05, 2016 18:23 GMT

ECONOMY-DEMOGRAPHICS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Good news for parents: Millennials in their early 20s found work in January.

The unemployment rate for workers ages 20 to 24 dropped more than a full percentage point to 8.2 percent last month. That's the lowest level since June 2007 and a vast improvement over the double-digit jobless rates that stretched from the Great Recession through 2014.

Men have some catching up to do, though: While the unemployment rate for women in their early 20s was 7.3 percent, the rate for men in the same age range was notably higher at 9 percent.

Unemployment rates also fell for Latinos and Asians. Rates rose slightly for black Americans, seniors and those without high school diplomas.

Overall, U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs last month, a deceleration from recent months. The overall unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent from 5 percent.

The data for various demographic groups came from a survey of households that is part of the Labor Department's monthly jobs report.

OBAMA

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is using new jobs numbers to take a victory lap on the economy.

Obama says the U.S. has "the strongest, most durable economy in the world." He pointed to wage and income growth, job growth, lower oil prices and increasing health insurance as evidence of that claim.

The president says those recent numbers are inconvenient for Republicans who are talking down the economy. He accused Republican presidential candidates of being on a "doom and despair tour" in New Hampshire.

Obama spoke to reporters hours after the Labor Department announced that U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in January. The gains were enough for the unemployment rate to fall to 4.9 percent from 5 percent. That's the lowest level of Obama's presidency.

TRADE GAP

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. trade deficit rose in December as American exports fell for a third straight month, reflecting the pressures of a stronger dollar and spreading global weakness. Those factors contributed to the first annual drop in U.S. export sales since the Great Recession shrank global trade six years ago.

The Commerce Department says the December deficit increased 2.7 percent to $43.4 billion. Exports fell by 0.3 percent, driven by sales declines of civilian aircraft, autos and farm products. Imports increased 0.3 percent as Americans bought more foreign-made cars and petroleum.

For all of 2015, the deficit rose 4.6 percent to $531.5 billion. Exports fell 4.8 percent, the first setback since 2009 when the world was in the grips of recession. Imports also retreated 3.1 percent.

HSBC SETTLEMENT

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Banking giant HSBC has reached a $470 million settlement with the federal government and nearly all states over mortgage lending and foreclosure abuses that officials say contributed to the financial crisis.

The agreement announced Friday requires the bank to pay $100 million and to provide an additional $370 million in consumer relief to borrowers and homeowners. That includes reducing the principal on mortgages for homeowners who are at risk of default.

The deal also requires the bank to improve standards for how it services loans and handles foreclosures.

The settlement involves the departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Attorneys general from 49 states plus the District of Columbia signed on.

BANKS-BAD ENERGY LOANS

NEW YORK (AP) -- The nation's six largest banks have hit an oil slick.

They have tens of billions of dollars of exposure to risky energy loans that won't all be paid back because low oil prices have sapped the profits of oil companies. The value of those loans will have to be written down even further, and bank profits are going to take a hit, the credit agency Moody's said in a report issued Friday.

The loans on the balance sheets of the biggest banks on Wall Street -- JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Bank of America -- represent only a small percentage of these firms' overall loans, but the losses will be noticeable.

Oil prices have fallen by more than 70 percent over the course of the last 19 months, to a recent $31 a barrel. Energy analysts expect that prices will be extremely slow to rise again because there is an enormous global oversupply of crude.

The troubled energy loans, while sizable, do not pose nearly the same threat to the banks or the financial system that mortgage loans did when the housing market collapsed leading up to the financial crisis.

CHICAGO STOCK EXCHANGE-BUYOUT

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Chicago Stock Exchange, founded more than a century ago, is being acquired by an investor group led by a Chinese company.

The exchange did not say what the purchase price was. The deal is expected to close in the second half of the year and needs to be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The buyers are led by Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group, an investment holding group based in Chongqing, China.

The Chicago Stock Exchange was founded in 1882.

JC PENNEY-HQ SALE

NEW YORK (AP) -- J.C. Penney is looking to potentially sell and partially leaseback its headquarters to help lower debt and create long-term savings.

The department store operator said Friday that it has a surplus of square footage available in the Plano, Texas office building, with favorable market conditions making it a good time for such a real estate transaction.

J.C. Penney Co. has been in the three-story building since 1992.

The company had a strong holiday season, with a key sales metric rising 3.9 percent as shoppers picked up home goods and other gifts. Earlier this month it started selling refrigerators, washing machines and other appliances at some of its stores for the first time in more than 30 years.

APPLE-BANGED-UP PHONES

NEW YORK (AP) -- Apple for the first time is accepting banged up iPhones as a trade-in from people wanting to upgrade.

Until now, Apple offered credit to iPhone owners only if the device had an intact screen and working buttons. It's hoped that with more leeway, applicable only to iPhone 5 and later models, more people will be encouraged to upgrade to new iPhones.

The changes, first reported on the tech blog 9to5Mac, were confirmed Friday by Apple spokesman Nick Leahy.

You will also now be able to get screen protectors installed in an Apple store.

Apple pays up to $350 for phones without cracked screens or broken buttons. For damaged phones, it will pay $50 for a 5s, $200 for a 6 and $250 for a 6 Plus.

 
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