N.J. loses jobs

From our wire services

New Jersey's jobless rate ticked downward in July, even as the state shed nearly 12,000 jobs, according to the state Labor Department. The jobless rate fell a 10th of a point to 8.6 percent, well above the national average of 7.4 percent for July.

Markets slump

The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 225 points, its worst day in nearly two months. Investors also dumped bonds, driving the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to its highest level in more than two years. "People are worried that this move up in interest rates will kill the recovery, and we won't see the anticipated second-half improvement in growth and corporate earnings," said Alec Young, global equity strategist at S&P Capital IQ.

Builders confident

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders is at its highest level in nearly eight years, fueled by optimism that demand for new homes will drive sales growth into next year. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index jumped to 59 this month from 56 in July.

Inflation tame

U.S. consumer prices rose only slightly last month as gas increased more slowly. Overall, the figures showed inflation remains mild. The Labor Department said the consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in July after a 0.5 percent increase in June. Over the past 12 months, consumer prices have risen 2 percent.

Factories weak

Output at U.S. factories declined slightly in July, reflecting a drop in auto production. The decline was expected to be temporary given the banner sales year automakers are having. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing output edged down 0.1 percent in July compared with June.

Loan rates steady

Average rates on U.S. long-term fixed mortgages remained steady for a second straight week, giving prospective home buyers more time to lock in historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan remained unchanged at 4.4 percent.

Fewer jobless claims

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, the fewest since October 2007 - a sign of dwindling layoffs and steady if modest job growth. The Labor Department said the less volatile four-week average fell 4,000 to 332,000, the fewest since November 2007 and the fifth straight decline.

Ind. casino sold

The sale of an Indiana casino along Lake Michigan has been completed. Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment now owns the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago as part of a nearly $870 million deal taking over Ameristar's parent company.

La. win increases

Louisiana's statewide casino winnings are up from a year ago, even though the take fell at 10 of 19 riverboat casinos and three of four racetrack slot machine casinos. State-regulated casinos won $212.6 million in July, up $10.2 million from June and $15 million from a year ago.

Oil price rises

The price of oil has been inflated by turmoil and increasing violence in the Middle East, but ample global oil supplies are helping to keep the rise in check. The price of U.S. benchmark oil rose 48 cents to $107.33 per barrel.