WASHINGTON - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week, reversing the prior three weeks declines, but a recent strengthening of the labor market likely remains intact.
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MADRID - Separatist parties in Spain's northeastern Catalonia region on Thursday agreed the wording of an independence referendum on November 9, 2014, but the Spanish government said the vote was illegal and would not happen.
ISTANBUL - Syria's Western-backed opposition said on Thursday it had invited Islamist fighters to secure its depots on the Turkish frontier after an attack by al Qaeda militants.
CAIRO - Egyptian riot police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of pro-Islamist protesters demonstrating near the headquarters of the ministry of defense in Cairo on Thursday, security sources said.
JOHANNESBURG - A South African sign language interpreter accused of miming nonsense as world leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela defended himself as a "champion" signer on Thursday, but said he suffered a schizophrenic episode during the event. | Video
CARACAS - Venezuela's murder rate has fallen by about a quarter this year, the government says, dismissing opponents' talk of ever-rising crime as propaganda.
NEW YORK - As a deadline approaches for people to sign up for medical insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare law, some insurers and state-run online marketplaces are giving shoppers an extra week to pay their first premiums.
BOGOTA - Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos' popularity rose for a third straight month in December and he would be re-elected next year in a second-round vote, a poll published on Thursday showed.