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Ascena closing up to 650 clothing stores including Dress Barn

Ascena to close 650 storesBetween 250 and 650 retail stores including Ann Taylor, Dress Barn, Loft and Lane Bryant are closing, owner Ascena Retrail Group announced.

The locations are closing over the next two years and also include Justice, Maurices and Catherines. CEO David Jaffe revealed the news Thursday during a conference call with investors.

It's unclear how many of each specific brand are expected to close, though 250 locations will definitely close. Up to 400 others are also being considered for shuttering.

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Earn minimum wage in the US? You can afford to live in exactly 12 counties

Minimum wage earners have few places to liveA person working a full-time minimum-wage job will find it virtually impossible to rent an affordable home anywhere in the US, according to a study that sheds new light the country’s housing crisis.

The report reveals that there is not a single county or metropolitan area in which a minimum-wage worker can afford a modest two-bedroom home, which the federal government defines as paying less than 30% of a household’s income for rent and utilities. And in only 12 counties in the country is a modest one-bedroom home affordable, according to the report, published Thursday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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Household debt tops 2008 peak ahead of financial crisis

Household debt in US at pre crash levelU.S. household debt has topped the record level reached in 2008, a milestone for the recovery that shows consumers are borrowing again,

But while the debt doesn’t pose the risks that toppled the financial system nine years ago, there are still some signs of potential trouble, notably high student loan debt and delinquencies.

Debt balances for American households increased $149 billion, or 1.2%, in the first quarter to $12.73 trillion, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said Wednesday. That’s modestly above the $12.68 trillion peak in 2008 and 14.1% higher than the bottom in 2013.

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In blow to Trump, GE backs NAFTA and voices support for Mexico

GE backs NAFTAGeneral Electric (GE.N) on Friday praised Mexico as a big part of its future and said the company is "very supportive" of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that U.S President Donald Trump has threatened to ditch.

GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt said on a visit that Mexico had great potential and was not properly understood. He touted the conglomerate's Mexican operations and the trade deal binding Mexico, Canada and the United States.

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Commerce secretary warns Canada against 'retaliatory action' on lumber tariff

Commerce Sec. Ross warns Canda about tariffSecretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Saturday doubled down on the imposition of tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber, saying they were not based on "political considerations" and that "threats of retaliatory action" are "inappropriate."

"The Department of Commerce's recent preliminary decision to impose tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber was based on the facts presented, not on political considerations," Ross said in a statement. "If any Canadian or British Columbian official wishes to present additional information, we will consider it carefully and impartially."

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Trump's first tariffs: Canada's lumber imports

US puts tariffs on Canadian lumberPresident Donald Trump imposed the first tariffs of his administration, up to 24.1 percent aimed at Canada's lumber industry, the Commerce Department announced.

Trump announced tariffs on Canadian softwood on Monday, prior to a Commerce Department statement indicating tariffs of between 3 percent and 24.1 percent would be imposed on five Canadian importers of lumber into the United States: West Fraser Mills, Tolko Marketing and Sales, J.D. Irving, Canfor Corporation, and Resolute FP Canada and West Fraser Mills. Smaller Canadian softwood importers will be charged an import duty of about 20 percent.

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Data Dive: U.S. confidence in economy at lowest point since November: Gallup

US confidence in economy tumblesConfidence in the U.S. economy is at its lowest point in five months, Gallup reports.

The polling firm's U.S. Economic Confidence Index was +4 for the week ending April 16, down two points from a week earlier. It's also fallen 12 points from early March when Dow Jones Industrial Average broke through 21,000 for the first time. Since then, the benchmark stock index has fallen 2.7 percent.

Gallup's indicator is back to where it was shortly after President Trump was elected.

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