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

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

— From news services

Coming Today