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Despite stock fall, financial health of many is still solid

WASHINGTON (AP) Many Americans have just absorbed a financial beating at least as measured by their stock holdings. It's the kind of blow that can feed a sense of helplessness about retirement, college savings and higher-than-expected bills.

But take a look at other gauges of Americans' financial health, and a more nuanced picture emerges:

Hiring and home values are up. Gas prices and mortgage rates are down. Inflation is low. The pace of layoffs has dwindled.

Add it up, and the evidence suggests that many Americans though certainly not all are doing comparatively well.

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US stocks extend losses as early rally fades

A rally in U.S. stocks evaporated in the minutes before the closing bell Tuesday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 200 points and extending Wall Street's losing streak to six days.

For most of the day, it appeared that the market had shaken off some of its worries about the slowdown in China, and at one point the Dow was up by as much as 441. But then sell orders began pouring in in the last 15 minutes of trading.

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China struggles to keep economy on track to 'new normal'

BEIJING (AP) China's slump is shaking the world economy, turning a country long seen as a growth engine into a possible threat.

The slowdown started as a side effect of the Communist Party's plan to steer the world's second-largest economy to a "new normal" of lower, steadier growth. It has turned into a nose dive the party is struggling to reverse.

The party's plans call for keeping economic growth close to 7 percent this year while China shifts from reliance on trade and investment to more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption.

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Tech startups want to change the way you drive

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A veteran computer scientist hates sitting in his car at stop lights, so he creates software that makes the experience less annoying. A former engineering professor wants to double the range of today's electric vehicles. And an aeronautics expert believes flying cars shouldn't be science fiction.

It's no secret that technology is changing the car industry. The major automakers, as well as tech giants such as Google and possibly Apple, are laying the groundwork for the first driverless cars.

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US new-home sales rebound in July

WASHINGTON (AP) Americans stepped up their purchases of new homes in July, with sales surging in the Northeast.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales rose 5.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 507,000, recovering from a slide in purchases in June.

Buyers have crowded into the housing market this year. Backed by solid job growth over the past two years and relatively low mortgage rates, sales of new homes jumped 21.2 percent through the first half of 2015, although the government sales report is volatile on a monthly basis.

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US home prices rise steadily in June as sales pick up

WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. home prices rose solidly in June, another sign of health in the housing market.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 5 percent from a year earlier, a slight improvement on May's 4.9 percent increase, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Prices rose 10.2 percent in Denver, 9.5 percent in San Francisco and 8.2 percent in Dallas. Chicago posted the smallest gain, just 1.4 percent.

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US consumer confidence shows sharp rebound in August

WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. consumer confidence rebounded in August to the strongest reading in seven months after having fallen sharply in July.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its index of consumer confidence increased to 101.5 in August, up from a revised July reading of 91.0. It was the best showing since January.

Conference Board economist Lynn Franco says that consumers' assessment of current conditions was considerably more upbeat in August, primarily due to a more favorable view of the labor market.

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Budget report sees shrinking deficits, but only for now

WASHINGTON (AP) An unforeseen flood of revenue is shrinking federal deficits to the lowest level of President Barack Obama's tenure, Congress' nonpartisan budget adviser said Tuesday. But in a report that will fuel both parties in their autumn clash over spending, the analysts also warned that perilously high shortfalls will roar back unless lawmakers act.

Two weeks before Congress returns from recess, the Congressional Budget Office said it expects this year's federal deficit to fall to $426 billion. That's $60 billion less than it expected in March, thanks to greater-than-expected individual and corporate income tax collections, and less than a third of the record $1.4 trillion gap of 2009 as the government tried fighting off the Great Recession.

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Best Buy 2Q performance beats analysts' expectations

NEW YORK (AP) Best Buy's turnaround is charging ahead.

The nation's largest consumer electronics chain posted fiscal second-quarter results that handily beat analysts' estimates as shoppers picked up major appliances, large screen televisions and mobile phones.

The stock surged more than 14 percent in midday trading Tuesday.

Best Buy's results are benefiting from an overall shift in consumer spending toward big ticket items in the home amid improving home values. Business is also being helped by an explosion of new gadgets like Apple watch, which will be rolled out to all of Best Buy's big-box stores by the end of September. The trend in spending for the home is also playing into the hands of home improvement players like Home Depot, which also reported strong second-quarter results last week.

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Survey: Recalls make Americans less satisfied with cars

DETROIT (AP) Americans are less happy with their cars and trucks than at any time in more than a decade, and it's largely because they're getting sick of dealing with recalls.

The 2015 American Consumer Satisfaction Index, an annual survey that involved 4,300 consumers, found that satisfaction with automobiles dropped for the third straight year to the lowest level since 2004. High new-car prices also were a factor.

Last year automakers recalled a record 64 million vehicles for problems such as exploding air bags and ignition switches that can unexpectedly cause engines to stall. The problems can be deadly. So far General Motors has agreed to compensate families of 124 people who died in crashes caused by the faulty switches. Eight more people have died worldwide after being cut by shrapnel from exploding Takata air bag inflators.

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Judge approves Gov. Christie's $225M settlement with Exxon

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) A New Jersey judge approved a $225 million deal Tuesday between Gov. Chris Christie's administration and ExxonMobil over dozens of polluted sites and nearly 2,000 retail gas stations, ending an 11-year legal battle that the state calls historic and opponents call a sell-out.

Superior Court Judge Michael Hogan ruled that while the deal is much less than the $8.9 billion the state originally sought, it is a "reasonable compromise" considering "substantial litigation risks" faced by the state in the case that spanned both Democratic and Republican governors.

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Ashley Madison users in US sue cheating website

LOS ANGELES (AP) Eight people across the U.S. who registered to use Ashley Madison are suing the cheating website after hackers released personal and detailed information of millions of users, including financial data and sexual proclivities.

The lawsuits were filed between last month and Monday by Ashley Madison users in California, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Minnesota. They all seek class-action status to represent the estimated 37 million registered users of Ashley Madison.

The lawsuits, which seek unspecified damages, claim negligence, breach of contract and privacy violations. They say Ashley Madison failed to take reasonable steps to protect the security of its users, including those who paid a special fee to have their information deleted.

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By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 204.91 points, or 1.3 percent, to 15,666.44. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 25.60 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,867.61. The Nasdaq composite declined 19.76 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,506.49.

U.S. crude rose $1.07 to close at $39.31 in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, gained 52 cents to close at $43.21 in London. Wholesale gasoline fell 1.8 cents to close at $1.535 a gallon. Heating oil edged up a fraction of a cent at $1.395 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3.5 cents to close at $2.685 per 1,000 cubic feet.