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R. Allen Stanford denies he ran a Ponzi scheme.

Stocks gain on reports of Europe getting help

NEW YORK — Stocks advanced Thursday amid hopes that policy makers may take steps to assist economies battered by Europe’s debt crisis.

The gains came after reports that central banks may boost liquidity as financial markets brace for potential turmoil from Greek elections this weekend.

In the U.S., speculation grew that the Federal Reserve will discuss stimulus efforts at its meeting next week after reports showed jobless claims unexpectedly climbed by 6,000 to 386,000 last week and the cost of living fell by the most in more than three years.

The Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index fell 0.3 percent, more than forecast and the biggest drop since December 2008, after no change the prior month.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 155.53 to close at 12,651.91. The S&P 500 rose 14.22 to 1,329.10. The Nasdaq gained 17.72 to 2,836.33.

OPEC keeps 30M-barrel target for daily output

VIENNA — OPEC oil ministers have decided to keep a production target of 30 million barrels a day, citing mounting world economic concerns for their decision.

The move Thursday by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries was expected, with ministers signaling such an outcome ahead of entering their meeting.

OPEC cited “downside risks facing the global economy” that could result in lowered demand for the 12-nation group’s crude as a key consideration in agreeing to keep output steady.

Stanford gets 110 years for role in $7B swindle

HOUSTON — Former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford, whose financial empire once spanned the Americas, was sentenced Thursday to 110 years in prison for bilking investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

Prosecutors had asked for 230 years, the maximum sentence possible after a jury convicted the onetime billionaire in March on 13 of 14 fraud-related counts. Stanford’s attorneys had asked for a maximum of 41 months. Stanford gave a rambling statement in which he denied he did anything wrong.

Nokia is cutting 10,000 jobs, shutting some facilities

LOS ANGELES — Finnish phone maker Nokia announced Thursday that it plans to restructure itself and cut 10,000 jobs by the end of 2013.

The layoffs are the company’s latest since announcing last year that it was cutting 14,000 jobs. Nokia said the restructuring will cost it about $1.2 billion but will reduce costs by about $2 billion by next year. Nokia also said it will close research facilities in Germany and Canada, as well as a site in Finland.

More flights on time in April, U.S. government says

DALLAS — More flights are getting to their destinations on time and with fewer mishandled bags. The U.S. Transportation Department said Thursday that 86.3 percent of flights on the nation’s biggest airlines arrived on time in April, up several points from both the previous month and April 2011.

Perennial winner Hawaiian Airlines had the best record, followed closely by AirTran Airways. American Airlines, which has been operating under bankruptcy protection, had the worst record.

Mortgages tick up, but still near all-time lows

WASHINGTON — Average rates on fixed mortgages rose this week, the first increase in seven weeks. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.71 percent. That’s up from 3.67 percent last week, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s. The average rate on the 15-year mortgage rose to 2.98 percent..

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