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WORRIES EXIST DESPITE DROP IN JOBLESS CLAIMS

WASHINGTON

The number of newly laid off workers filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week, but not enough to indicate that strains on the labor market are easing. The Labor Department reported Thursday that 356,000 claims for jobless benefits were filed last week, a decline of 22,000 from the previous week. The decline only erased a part of the huge jump of 72,000 in claims of the previous week.

Consumers slowed their borrowing

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that consumer borrowing rose at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in December, a sharp slowdown from an 8.2 percent jump in November. It was the weakest showing since credit had increased just 1.6 percent in April.

LOS ANGELES

Builder, lender accused of scheme

A suit accuses KB Home and mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. of scheming with real estate appraisers to inflate prices paid for homes as the housing market began to tank. The complaint was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court. The plaintiffs, Deborah and Lonnie Bolden, and David and Dolores Contreras, all of Live Oak, Calif., are seeking unspecified restitution as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.

Google enhances business software

Google Inc. upgraded Google Apps team edition, its free Web-based word-processing and spreadsheet software, on Thursday to let groups of people work on the same document online. The move is an effort to push deeper into a market dominated by Microsoft Corp. Google also said its mobile-phone operating system, called Android, will go on display next week at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

BENTONVILLE, Ark.

Wal-Mart opening in-store clinics

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will open its first in-store medical clinics under its own brand name after leasing space in dozens of stores to outside companies that operate the quick-service health stops. It said Thursday it will open the Clinic at Wal-Mart as a joint venture with local hospital systems in Atlanta, Dallas and Little Rock, Ark., starting in April.

PALO ALTO, Calif.

Facebook offers Spanish version

Facebook Inc. unveiled a Spanish-language version of its popular online social network Thursday, hoping to expand its audience and catch up to MySpace.com.

McLEAN, Va.

Washington Post names publisher

The Washington Post on Thursday named Katharine Weymouth, 41, as its new publisher, restoring a member of the Graham family to the position.

CHICAGO

Yes! Roadster is coming to states

German automaker Funke & Will AG will sell its two-door Yes! Roadster in North America for the first time starting this summer, the company announced Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show. Prices start at $77,995.

Hailing a cab

Major automakers will be asked to design a taxi tailored specifically to meet New York City's new rules for fuel efficiency and disabled access, potentially altering the look of its 13,000 iconic yellow cabs.

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