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News Wrap: More Bloodshed Seen in Afghanistan

June 9, 2010 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Dozens more people died in new attacks across Southern Afghanistan today. A provincial official reported at least 39 Afghans were killed by an explosion in Kandahar Province. The victims were taking part in a large marriage ceremony.

Earlier, insurgents shot down a NATO helicopter in Helmand Province, killing four American troops. In addition, a British soldier died in a bombing in Helmand. Twenty-nine NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan in the last nine days.

In neighboring Pakistan, militants attacked a NATO convoy just six miles outside the capital of Islamabad. Seven people were killed. The assault also damaged 30 trucks transporting military supplies to Afghanistan. Police said about 15 militants opened fire with automatic weapons, then torched the trucks.

The debt crisis in Europe should have only — should have only a modest effect on the U.S. economy, if the stock market stabilizes. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke offered that outlook today to Congress.

BEN BERNANKE, Federal Reserve chairman: Although the recent fall in equity prices and weaker economic prospects in Europe will leave some imprint on the U.S. economy, offsetting factors include declines in interest rates on Treasury bonds and home mortgages, as well as lower prices for oil and some other globally traded commodities.

HARI SREENIVASAN: The Fed also issued its latest survey of regional conditions, and it showed modest growth in all parts of the country. That hasn’t happened since the end of 2007.

The economic news sent Wall Street higher for a time, before a late-day drop. Worries about BP’s future sent energy stocks lower. And the selling spread across the market. The Dow Jones industrial average lost more than 40 points to close at 9899. The Nasdaq fell more than 11 points to close at 2158.

President Obama warned today the situation in the Middle East is unsustainable. He met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. Mr. Obama said Israel needs a better approach to its three-year blockade of Gaza, after last week’s sea raid that killed nine people.

The president also announced another $400 million in U.S. aid to Gaza. The Israelis today eased their blockade to allow food items that had been banned.

Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Judy.