But a number of firms like Hobby Lobby, which is owned by an evangelical Christian family, argue the regulation violates their religious freedom.
Hobby Lobby, for example, already provides coverage of almost all contraceptives as part of its employees' health insurance. It objects to the requirement that it now cover the so-called morning-after and week-after pills, saying that paying for those two treatments would violate its owners' belief that life begins at fertilization.
Applications for US unemployment aid fall to 340,000
WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 23,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 340,000, a level consistent with solid job growth.
The less volatile four-week average ticked down just 500 to 339,500, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's close to the five-year low of 338,000 reached during the first week of May. The four-week average is 9 percent lower than in November.
Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. The decline in claims has coincided with steady job growth over the past six months. Since November, employers have added an average 208,000 jobs a month. That's up from just 138,000 jobs a month during the previous six months.
US new home sales up 2.3 percent in April
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of new homes rose in April and nearly matched the fastest pace in five years, driving the median price to a record high. The gains suggest the housing recovery is strengthening.
New-home sales increased 2.3 percent in April from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That's only slightly below January's pace of 458,000, which was the fastest since July 2008.
Steady job creation and near-record-low mortgage rates are spurring more Americans to buy homes. Sales are still below the 700,000 pace consistent with healthy markets, but they have risen 29 percent over the past year.
NJ: Caramel-colored rubbing alcohol sold as scotch
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — At one bar, a mixture that included rubbing alcohol and caramel coloring was sold as scotch. In another, premium liquor bottles were refilled with water — and apparently not even clean water at that.
State officials provided those new details Thursday on raids they conducted a day earlier as part of a yearlong investigation dubbed Operation Swill.
Twenty-nine New Jersey bars and restaurants, including 13 TGI Fridays, were accused of substituting cheap booze — or worse — for the good stuff while charging premium prices.
Ralph Lauren's 4Q profit rises 35 percent
NEW YORK (AP) — Ralph Lauren Corp. reported a 35 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit as the luxury retailer benefited from lower cotton prices and cost controls.
But the seller of Polo and other brands saw its stock fall Thursday because its revenue fell below Wall Street expectations amid poor weather, economic challenges in the U.S. and abroad and the move to eliminate some businesses to focus on the most profitable ones.
The results, announced Thursday, show how the New York based luxury company is seeing increasing profits since the first half of its fiscal year, when cotton costs soared and the company was bearing the brunt of the costs of eliminating certain businesses such as its Rugby brand. But it's still navigating the rough patches of a choppy global economy.
By The Associated Press(equals)
The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day just 12.67 points lower, or 0.1 percent, at 15,294.50. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed down 4.84 points to 1,650.51, or 0.3 percent. The Nasdaq composite fell 3.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,459.42.
Benchmark oil for July delivery fell 3 cents to close at $94.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for many international oil varieties, fell 16 cents to $102.44 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.
Wholesale gasoline rose 1 cent to $2.83 a gallon. Heating oil lost 1 cent to $2.86 a gallon. Natural gas rose 8 cents to $4.26 per 1,000 cubic feet.
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