By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly more than expected last week, pointing to a sustained improvement in labor market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 14,000 to a seasonally adjusted 298,000 for the week ended Aug. 16, the Labor Department said on Thursday. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the state level data. The four-week average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 4,750 to 300,750.
(Reuters) - Family Dollar Stores Inc rejected Dollar General Corp's $8.95 billion acquisition offer, citing antitrust concerns, and reaffirmed its support for a buyout offer from Dollar Tree Inc . " ... We will not jeopardize the Dollar Tree deal for a transaction with Dollar General that has a high likelihood of not closing due to antitrust considerations," Ed Garden, an independent director on Family Dollar's board, said in a statement on Thursday. Garden is also a co-founder and partner at Trian Fund Management LP, which was Family Dollar's second-largest shareholder as of July 27, with a 7.3 percent stake. Dollar General, in a letter to Family Dollar's board late on Wednesday, questioned if Family Dollar Chief Executive Howard Levine was being driven by self-interest in his support of Dollar Tree's offer.
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli air strike killed three senior Hamas commanders in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a clear sign of its intention to hit the group's armed leadership days after a ceasefire failed. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, the three highest-ranking casualties it has announced since Israel started its offensive six weeks ago. All three, killed in the bombing of a house in the southern town of Rafah, had led operations against Israel over the past 20 years, the Islamist movement said. The Israeli military and Shin Bet, the internal security service, confirmed it had targeted two of the men.