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By Rodrigo Campos NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 hit a record high for a third straight session on Thursday, lifted by jobs data and earnings, but a weak reading in new home sales kept other key stock indexes little changed. Stocks had opened higher on strong job market data in the United States and overseas factory readings, while Facebook shares rallied after results beat expectations. Jobless claims fell to the lowest since mid-February 2006, pointing to continued strength in the labor market, but new home sales fell 8.1 percent in June, the most in almost a year, and May's initial reading of a more than 18 percent gain was revised to just above 8 percent, putting a damper on sentiment as the housing market struggles.
An onslaught on a convoy transferring inmates north of Baghdad left dozens dead Thursday, as visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Iraq's survival hinged on a more inclusive government. Explosions from the attack were heard in some neighbourhoods of Baghdad, where UN chief Ban Ki-moon landed Thursday on an unscheduled stop in his Middle East tour.
By Ben Klayman DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co reported a much lower second-quarter profit on Thursday due to numerous recalls and the expected cost of at least $400 million for a compensation fund for those killed or injured by a defective ignition switch linked to at least 13 deaths. GM also reiterated that it expected a moderately improved operating profit this year and that its future recall costs would be slightly higher than historic rates. "We're on or ahead of the plan we shared in January," Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens told reporters. "Our expectation is that the second half of the year will be better than the first half." Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said strong vehicle pricing in North America "saves the quarter." GM earlier this year recalled 2.6 million cars for the faulty ignition switches, which can cause engine stalls and stop power steering and power brakes from operating and air bags from deploying.
The executive board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Thursday dismissed president Aminu Maigari after he was impeached for misuse of funds. Vice-president Mike Umeh will now step up to serve as acting president. A statement from the executive committee meeting said that "after thorough and exhaustive deliberations" on the secretive nature of the federation's financial dealings and a "failure to call a meeting of the executive committee for the past eight months" during which time many important decision were made, the board had passed a vote of no-confidence on Maigari. It therefore approved his immediate dismissal from the NFF executive committee on grounds of financial misappropriation, misapplication and maladministration.
Fifteen Palestinians were killed Thursday when an Israeli shell slammed into a UN-run school where hundreds of civilians had taken refuge, sending the death toll in Gaza soaring to 777 despite world efforts to broker a ceasefire. The strike hit a school sheltering some of the 100,000 Palestinians driven out of their homes in search of a safe haven after weeks of deadly fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants. Gaza's emergency services said 15 people had been killed and more than 200 injured in the school strike, sending the Palestinian death toll from 17 days of fighting to 777. Meanwhile in Cairo, US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to further regional efforts to broker an end to the bloodshed, reaching out to Turkey and Qatar, both allies of Hamas.
By Emily Flitter and Sarah N. Lynch NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Thursday it had charged Morgan Stanley with misleading investors about two mortgage-backed securities it issued before the 2008 financial crisis, and that the bank would pay $275 million to settle the case, according to a press release. The SEC found Morgan Stanley had not given investors in the securities, which were called Morgan Stanley ABS Capital I Inc. Trust 2007-NC4 and Morgan Capital I Inc. Trust 2007-HE7, the correct information about how many of the mortgages they contained were delinquent, the release said.
(Reuters) - A Minnesota man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent. Duff Watson said he was flying from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday and tried to board in a spot for frequent flyer privileges he held and take his sons, ages 6 and 9, with him, even though they had a later spot to board the plane. Watson replied that he had boarded early with them before and then sent out a tweet that read "RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. Once at the gate, the agent said that unless the tweet was deleted, police would be called and the family would not be allowed back onboard.
A blast ripped through a bus station in Kano, northern Nigeria, on Thursday, as passengers boarded buses out of the city, witnesses said. Explosives, apparently concealed in a bag that was abandoned by two men disguised as travellers, went off at about 3:00 pm (1500 GMT) at the New Motor Park in the predominantly Christian Sabon Gari neighbourhood of the city. There was no immediate indication of the number of casualties, people at the bus station told AFP. Kano -- Nigeria's second city -- has been hit before by explosions, with blame attributed to Boko Haram militants, who have been waging a violent insurgency in the country's north since 2009.
Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. "By getting things right in these two areas, the gains can be exceptional," Gates said, calling health and agriculture "enabling factors for all the other things that need to be done." "This Boko Haram disruption is the one real cloud on the horizon, where it means there are groups of children that we're not able to get to," he told reporters after receiving his award. Gates -- the world's richest man -- and his wife are the co-founders of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which tackles health and poverty in Africa.