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Stocks mostly lower...Yellen says Fed still must help economy...Protecting pregnant workers

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks have been mostly lower in afternoon trading, as investors consider a mix of corporate earnings, government numbers and new comments from the Federal Reserve chief on the economy. After opening higher, the major indexes had given back those gains by midday. The government reported this morning that retail sales increased only slightly last month, a sign that consumers remain cautious despite steady job gains this year.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy is still in recovery. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told the Senate Banking Committee today that the Fed plans to keep providing significant support to boost growth and improve labor market conditions. Yellen says if labor market conditions continue to improve quicker than anticipated the Fed could raise its short-term interest rate sooner. Yellen testifies tomorrow before the House Financial Services Committee.

UNDATED (AP) -- JPMorgan Chase says its second-quarter earnings fell as revenues at its investment banking and mortgage units dropped. The bank's net income totaled $5.6 billion in the second quarter after payments to preferred shareholders. That was down 9 percent from the same period a year earlier when it made $6.1 billion. Johnson & Johnson reports earnings that climbed by 13 percent in its second quarter, and topped analysts' expectations.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- For the first time in 30 years, the federal government is issuing new guidelines designed to protect pregnant workers from on-the-job discrimination. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's update makes it clear that any form of workplace discrimination or harassment of pregnant women by employers is illegal. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the update, saying pregnancy should not be used to justify excluding women from jobs. But it was opposed by some Republicans, including those on the five-member commission.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Internal Revenue Service could have less money in the future to crack down on potential tax cheats. The GOP-controlled House has slashed the budget for the IRS tax enforcement division by 25 percent. The cuts reflect GOP outrage over the agency's scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The White House already has issued a veto threat on the legislation, saying it shortchanges the IRS.

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