By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week, but the underlying trend pointed to a continuing strengthening of labor market conditions. Other data on Thursday suggested a long-awaited acceleration in wage growth was imminent, with labor costs recording their largest increase in more than 5-1/2 years in the second quarter. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 23,000 to a seasonally adjusted 302,000 for the week ended July 26, the Labor Department said. "Unemployment claims have come down a lot as of late and suggest that labor market conditions continue to improve," said Yelena Shulyatyeva, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.
Explosions rang out near the crash site of downed flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine on Thursday as international investigators arrived for the first time in nearly a week after Kiev announced a surprise one-day halt to its offensive against rebels. Lawmakers in Kiev ratified agreements with The Hague and Canberra that could see the two nations send some 950 armed personnel to secure the site where many of their nationals died.
By Kirstin Ridley LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Serious Fraud Office has averted a 300 million-pound damages claim over its botched investigation into the Tchenguiz brothers, securing a second out-of-court settlement and closing an embarrassing chapter in its history. Property barons Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, renowned for their champagne-fuelled parties and super yachts, sued the agency over dawn raids on their homes and offices and their high-profile arrests in March 2011 in a case linked to the 2008 collapse of Iceland's Kaupthing bank. David Green, who took over as head of the agency one month later, has secured a 4.5 million-pound deal with the brothers, excluding hefty legal costs. The deal averts an October civil trial and further public airing of the SFO's handling of a case that has already been slated as "incompetent" by a senior judge.