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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Arkansas Business) -- Stocks higher after the government reported that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in three months.

The number dropped by 26,000 last week to 323,000, according to the Labor Department. That was far fewer than the 337,000 claims economists had expected.

We'll know more about the state of the jobs market in about 45 minutes, when the Labor Department reports the unemployment rate for February.

Bank of the Ozarks Completes Deal with Texas bank

Bank of the Ozarks Inc. of Little Rock has completed its acquisition of Omnibank, a Texas bank owned by Bancshares Inc. of Houston.

The $21.5 million deal was first announced in December. It will give Bank of the Ozarks seven new offices in south Texas in places like Houston and Austin.

In all, Bank of the Ozarks now has 21 offices in Texas.

National Park Service reports on spending

A National Park Service report says more than 2.7 million people spent a total of $138.9 million and supported more than 2-thousand jobs while visiting Arkansas' national parks in 2012.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis, conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, shows the Buffalo National River and Hot Springs National Park had more than 1 million visitors that year.

That translated to nearly $44 million in visitor spending at the Buffalo, and more than $77 million at Hot Springs National Park.

Business of Tourism kicks off in Arkansas

The business of tourism in Arkansas will be the hot topic in Rogers next week.

The annual Governor's Conference on Tourism begins Sunday at the John Q. Hammons Convention Center in Rogers.

Among the speakers this year is actor Andrew McCarthy. McCarthy, who appeared in 80's films including "Pretty in Pink" and "St. Elmo's Fire", is also an award-winning travel writer.

He is currently editor at large at National Geographic Magazine.

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