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AMERICAN UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS JUMP The number of Americans applying the first time for state unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly for the third consecutive time last week, reaching a two-month high, the government said yesterday. The Labor Department said claims totaled 364,000 in the week ended April 16, up 14,000 from a revised 350,000 the week before. Initial reports had put the previous week's figure at 348,000. Most economists had predicted a decline of about 10,000 as warmer temperatures fuel new hiring in manufacturing and construction. The 456,000 new jobs created in March were the most created in more than six years. But the figures show the effects of downsizing by many employers determined to streamline their operations to survive in a competitive marketplace. IBM reports progress

International Business Machines Corporation yesterday reported a surprisingly robust $392 million profit for the first quarter, but warned that its turnaround from massive losses of recent years was not complete. The results marked a dramatic turnaround from the first quarter of 1993, when the company lost $399 million. China copyright case

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A man has been jailed for 12 years for book copyright fraud in the first case of its kind in China, the official People's Daily reported Wednesday. The newspaper said Shang Jianguo, claiming to represent three Hong Kong publishing firms, sold what he claimed were Hong Kong publishing rights to 57 authors in different parts of China. China is acting on Western criticism of its policies. Gorazde shelling

A makeshift center for the wounded in the Yugoslavian enclave of Gorazde was hit by two tank rounds yesterday, killing from 10 to 20 patients and injuring more, the UN said. The center was full of casualties overflowing from the besieged eastern Muslim enclave's hospital, and no accurate toll was available. Singapore caning case

A Singapore judge convicted a Hong Kong teenager today of vandalizing cars and sentenced him to 12 lashes in a case that has drawn international attention to Singapore's severe penalties for crimes. The conviction of Shiu Chi Ho, 16, came a day after lawyers for Michael P. Fay, an 18-year-old American who pleaded guilty last month, submitted a final appeal for his flogging sentence to be suspended. Both are among a group of foreign teenagers charged with spraying paint on cars.

Rwanda battles

UN peacekeepers said yesterday that rebels had captured a large swath of northern Rwanda, and government forces appeared to be losing slowly. Awaiting orders from New York on whether all UN troops should pull out, UN officials said rebel and government forces had agreed to protect refugees in case of a UN withdrawal. US Supreme Court

Honda Motor Company, fighting a $5.7 million judgment in an all-terrain vehicle wreck, asked the US Supreme Court Wednesday to strike down an Oregon law that bars judges from reducing juries' punitive-damage awards. The case marks the third time in recent years the high court has been asked to rein in punitive damage awards. It refused to do so in both 1991 and 1993.

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