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U.S. oil prices closed slightly lower after earlier topping $50 a barrel for the first time in about seven months. The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.2 percent, but pared some losses on comments from Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell. Investors are looking ahead to a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday for more clues on the U.S. interest rate outlook.
Microsoft and Facebook on Thursday announced they will work together to lay a high-speed Internet cable across the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. A new, sub-sea "MAREA" cable was expected to be completed by late 2017, with the aim of meeting growing demand by the tech companies' customers for fast, reliable data connections. "As the world is increasingly moving toward a future based on cloud computing, Microsoft continues to invest in our cloud infrastructure to meet current and future growing global demand for our more than 200 cloud services, " Microsoft data center strategy general manager Christian Belady said in a release.