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AP Financial News Summary at 6:17 p.m. EDT

April 27, 2006

Microsoft 3Q Profit Up but Misses Views

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SEATTLE (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. said its quarterly income rose 16 percent, but the results fell shy of Wall Street expectations and the software company offered a tepid outlook Thursday for the current quarter.

Bernanke: Fed May Relax Rate-Hike Campaign

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Keeping his options open, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke signaled Thursday that after one more interest rate increase the central bank may take a break _ perhaps only temporarily _ from a rate-raising campaign aimed at keeping inflation at bay.

Dow Closes Up 28, Nasdaq Finishes Up 11

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks closed mostly higher Thursday as Wall Street brushed aside concerns about a Chinese interest rate hike to focus on comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that a pause in U.S. rate increases may be ahead.

Prosecutor Questions Lay at Enron Trial

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HOUSTON (AP) _ Federal prosecutors sought Thursday to torpedo Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay’s self-image as a company champion, trying to show he used the ailing energy giant to bail himself out of personal financial woes in 2001.

Oil Prices Slide for 4th Consecutive Day

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Oil prices fell for the fourth straight day on Thursday, dipping below $71 a barrel after China sought to cool its economic growth by raising a key interest rate and the World Bank tentatively resolved a dispute with Chad, which had threatened to shut off an oil pipeline.

Exxon Mobil 1Q Profit Up 7 Pct. to $8.4B

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DALLAS (AP) _ Exxon Mobil Corp. posted the fifth-highest quarterly profit for any public company in history on Thursday, and with oil prices above $70 a barrel it could go down as the company’s weakest quarter for the year.

3 Drugmakers Report Gains in 1Q Earnings

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NEW YORK (AP) _ GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the world’s second largest drugmaker, said Thursday that strong sales propelled double-digit earnings growth in the first quarter as did its British rival AstraZeneca PLC, which raised its earnings outlook for the year.

Harrah’s, MGM See Increase in 1Q Profits

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LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The world’s two largest gambling companies, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and No. 2 MGM Mirage Inc., posted higher earnings in the first quarter as megadeals from a year ago increasingly paid off.

AutoNation CEO Says Luxury Car Sales Up

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DETROIT (AP) _ Rising gas prices haven’t stalled sales of luxury vehicles, which were up 15 percent at AutoNation Inc. retailers in the first quarter, and the head of the largest U.S. auto retailer doesn’t see a slowdown coming any time soon.

China Central Bank Boosts Interest Rates

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BEIJING (AP) _ China’s central bank raised interest rates Thursday in the government’s strongest move yet to cool an economy verging on overheating. The news sent resource stocks, oil and commodity prices lower around the world.

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