NEW YORK - Starved for good news, investors sent stocks soaring Thursday on weak earnings reports that provided just enough hope that a business turnaround will come sooner rather than later. The Dow Jones industrials and Nasdaq composite each surged by triple digits in their biggest rallies in two months.
The Dow soared 237.97 to 10,478.99, the Nasdaq rose 103.70 to 2,075.74, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 27.96 to 1,208.14.
Advancing issues led decliners about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 1.60 billion shares, compared with nearly 1.61 billion Wednesday.
GE chairman gives retirement date
STAMFORD, Conn. - Longtime General Electric Chairman Jack Welch, who helped shape the international conglomerate into the world's most valuable company, said Thursday he will retire at the company's Sept. 7 board meeting.
Also, GE announced a 15 percent increase in second-quarter income, meeting Wall Street's expectations.
Mr. Welch, 65, planned to retire in April but deferred his departure to shepherd the $41 billion merger of Fairfield-based GE and Honeywell International Inc. That deal was derailed earlier this month by objections from European Union antitrust regulators.
Mr. Welch is credited with helping oversee GE's diverse operations, which range from jet engines to medical equipment to the NBC television network. At about $450 billion, GE is the world's largest company in market value.
Senate votes on bankruptcy bill
WASHINGTON - With the slumping economy bringing a surge in bankruptcy filings, the Senate on Thursday took a procedural, 88-10 vote on a House-passed bill making it harder for people to wipe away their debts in court.
Opponents say the legislation would remove a crucial financial safety net for people who have lost their jobs or face huge medical bills.
Senate aides said the bill and an alternate version sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, could be submitted to House and Senate negotiators in the coming days.
The legislation would apply a new standard for determining whether people filing for bankruptcy should be forced to repay their debts under a court-approved reorganization plan rather than having them dissolved. If a debtor was found to have sufficient income to repay at least 25 percent of the debt in five years, a reorganization plan generally would be required.
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