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The number of Americans filing unemployment claims rose slightly during the week ending Aug. 22, but held below 400,000 for the second consecutive week, the Labor Department said yesterday. The report was considered a sign of hope amid generally gloomy economic reports.... Meanwhile, orders for US factories fell 1.1 percent in July, the worst drop since December, the government said Wednesday.... Financial problems will force the American Ballet Theatre to cancel its upcoming annual US tour or merge with

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another group, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.... Sears, Roebuck and Company announced that it is offering $50 coupons to hundreds of thousands of its auto-repair customers to settle allegations it did shoddy and unnecessary work.... A.C. Nielsen kept its virtual monopoly on supplying national TV ratings to advertisers when The Arbitron Company yesterday canceled its planned national TV ratings service, saying there was insufficient customer interest.... On rumors the Japanese government will intro duce measures to resuscitate Japan's stalling economy, the Nikkei Stock Average soared 798.77 points to close at 18,386.49 yesterday. EUROPE

A Berlin court yesterday ordered former East German leader Erich Honecker to remain in prison pending trial on charges he ordered the killings of people trying to flee to the West, an attorney said. The defense team had claimed that the 80-year-old Honecker was too ill to stay behind bars.... Polish police investigating the apparent torture and murder of Communist ex-premier Piotr Jaroszewicz and his wife searched yesterday for clues to whether the killings had a political motive.

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