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BUSINESS TODAY

HOUSING STARTS CLIMB: Housing construction rose 3 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.66-million, the Commerce Department said. That followed a revised 1 percent decline in May. The increase was the largest since starts jumped almost 9 percent to 1.66-million in January. Analysts had expected starts to decline 1.4 percent from May.

BELT-TIGHTENING AT AMERICAN EXPRESS: American Express Co. will eliminate 4,000 to 5,000 jobs. The company warned that second quarter earnings will plummet 76 percent from the $740-million, or 54 cents a share, earned a year ago. American Express said it was reducing its exposure to high-yield bonds and will take an $826-million charge to cover costs associated with the changes.

VENTURE FUNDS STRUGGLE: Venture capitalists are recognizing the worst losses in the industry's history, according to the research firm Venture Economics and the trade group National Venture Capital Association. Venture capital funds posted an average loss of 8.9 percent in the three months ended March 31, representing the industry's second consecutive quarter of red ink. The average venture fund recorded a 24.2 percent gain in the comparable year-ago period, the study found.

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