Stocks notch biggest daily gain of 2014

February 6
INVESTING
Stocks notch biggest daily gain of 2014

After a rocky start to the week, U.S. stocks roared back Thursday, giving major indicators their biggest gain of the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500-stock index each closed up 1.2 percent, their largest single-day increase since Dec. 18.

The rally helped the market rebound a day after a modest loss and continued stocks’ gradual comeback since a drop of more than 2 percent on Monday.

The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 188.30 points, or 1.2 percent, to close at 15,628.53. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index rose 21.79 points, also 1.2 percent, to 1773.43. Both indicators were still down about half a percent for the week following Monday’s drop. The Nasdaq composite gained 45.57 points, or 1.1 percent, to 4057.12.

Thursday’s rise began overseas, where the European Central Bank decided not to cut interest rates. The move propelled major European stock indexes sharply higher.


Then the markets got a dose of good news on the U.S. job market. The Labor Department reported that fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week.

That report, combined with a private survey on U.S. hiring released Wednesday, appeared to bolster investors’ confidence that the government will issue a positive January jobs report Friday.

— Associated Press

CYBER SECURITY
Target contractor says it’s part of probe

Hackers of Target managed to break into its payments network by first breaching a “data connection” between the U.S. retailer and its heating and ventilation systems contractor, a representative for the contractor said Thursday.

The data connection was used by the vendor, Fazio Mechanical Services, to bill Target and exchange contract and project-management information with the retailer, according to Dick Roberts, a public relations representative for Fazio, based in Sharpsburg, Pa.

Target has said hackers stole about 40 million credit and debit card records, as well as personal information, such as addresses and phone numbers, belonging to about 70 million customers.

Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder declined Thursday to comment on the company’s vendor relationships or to provide an update.

The U.S. Secret Service, which is investigating the Target breach, said Wednesday that its agents had visited Fazio’s offices.

Ross E. Fazio, president and owner of Fazio Mechanical Services, said in a statement that his company was “fully cooperating” with Target and the Secret Service “to identify the possible cause of the breach.”

Fazio provides Target with heating, ventilation and air conditioning services, which are maintained physically. Fazio did not monitor these systems by remote control, Roberts said.

— Reuters

Also in Business

General Motors’ fourth-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates as the automaker lost money in Asia outside of China, faced higher taxes and restructured in Europe. Profit excluding one-time items was 67 cents a share, GM said, trailing the 87-cent average of analysts’ estimates. That compares with 48 cents a share a year earlier.

LinkedIn’s revenue forecast fell short of Wall Street’s expectations, sending its stock down about 8 percent in after-hours trading. The social network geared toward professionals posted a better-than-expected 47 percent jump in fourth-quarter revenue and announced the $120 million cash-and-stock acquisition of online-job-search service Bright. LinkedIn said 2014 revenue will range from $2.02 billion to $2.05 billion, compared with the average analyst expectation of $2.16 billion.

News Corp., the publishing company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, reported second-quarter earnings that exceeded Wall Street forecasts. Revenue declined as expected, reflecting slower advertising sales. Net income in the three months that ended Dec. 31 amounted to $150 million, or 26 cents per share. Excluding charges for restructuring, a U.K. hacking probe and other matters, adjusted earnings were 31 cents per share, beating the 21 cents expected by analysts. Revenue fell 4 percent, to $2.24 billion, in line with expectations.

Unusually frigid weather was blamed for slipping output of natural gas in the United States as California warned of short supplies and No. 2 U.S. producer Chesapeake Energy said foul weather hurt its operations. The comments from Chesapeake chief executive Doug Lawler came as gas for Friday delivery at Henry Hub, the benchmark supply point in Louisiana, traded as high as $9 per million British thermal units early Thursday, its highest level since August 2008, traders said.

Stanley Fischer, the nominee for vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, disclosed assets of as much as $56.3 million and said he would sell his shares of financial companies, including BlackRock, if he is confirmed. Fischer amassed a personal fortune of $14.6 million to $56.3 million, a sum that would make him one of the wealthiest Fed officials. The nominees value their assets in ranges, making a precise tally impossible. Fischer and his wife will sell holdings in nine companies, such as American Express, T. Rowe Price and General Electric, if the former governor of the Bank of Israel wins Senate confirmation, according to documents filed with the Office of Government Ethics.

— From news services

Coming Today

8:30 a.m.: January jobs report.

ART
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