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In the largest jump since July 2003, sales of existing homes rose an unexpected 5.1 percent between January and February, the National Association of Realtors said Monday of a rare bright spot for the slumping housing market. The sales spurt was attributed to buyers taking advantage of deep discounts on foreclosures.

Alaska's Mount Redoubt volcano erupted five times late Sunday and early Monday. It last erupted nearly 20 years ago. The volcano, which has been restless this year, is roughly 100 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Despite US economic struggles, 55 percent of Americans give President Obama positive ratings for his overall job performance, according to a Harris Interactive survey conducted between March 9 and 16. Sixty-eight percent, however, still think the country is going off on the wrong track as the president passes his 50th day in office.

During the past two weeks, the price of gasoline dropped for the first time this year, although only by a penny. The average US price for a gallon of regular is now $1.95, according to the latest Lundberg Survey.

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