News In Brief

Initial applications for state unemployment benefits fell again last week - remaining below the 300,000 level for the longest sustained period since 1973, the Labor Department said. The number of Americans registering first-time claims fell to 289,000 for the week ending March 20. Private economists surveyed by Reuters had projected new claims at 302,000. The fact that they failed to reach that level, indicating a continuing robust economy, was credited with causing bond prices to drop slightly.

Wireless-phone manufacturers Qualcomm and Ericsson settled a patent dispute that likely will improve the latter's position in the US market while bringing the industry closer to a single worldwide technology standard. That standard, known as CDMA (code division, multiple access), was developed by Qualcomm and is considered the key to the next generation of mobile phones. The deal allows Sweden's Ericsson to make CDMA phones for sale in the US. In turn, Qualcomm will gain access to Ericsson's patented Global System for Mobile Communications, the technology currently in widest use, especially in Europe.

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