Slowdown in economy pushes stocks higher

NEW YORK — The U.S. economy slowed, but stocks went up for a second day in a row Wednesday, as investors became more optimistic that the Federal Reserve won’t yank away its stimulus programs before the economy is ready.

It was the first two-day gain since Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week the central bank could start pulling back its bond-buying program later this year.

The government said Wednesday the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.8 percent in the first three months of 2013, down sharply from the last estimate.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 149.83 to 14,910.14. The S&P 500 rose 15.23 to 1,603.26. The Nasdaq composite index rose 28.34 to 3,376.22.

IEA: Global renewable energy is growing fast

Renewable energy is growing fast around the world and will be the second biggest source of electricity, after coal, by 2016, according to a five-year outlook published Wednesday by the International Energy Agency.

Developing countries are building more wind, solar and hydroelectric power plants to meet rising power demand and combat local pollution problems. And the costs of renewables are falling below the cost of traditional power sources such as coal, natural gas and oil in some markets with high-priced power.

General Mills’ 4Q profit up, but forecast is short

Foodmaker General Mills said Wednesday its fiscal fourth-quarter net income climbed 13 percent, helped by contributions from new businesses and strong sales overseas.

But its fiscal 2014 adjusted earnings forecast came in slightly below estimates.

The company, whose products include Cheerios cereal and Nature Valley granola bars, earned $366.3 million for the period ended May 26.

General Mills anticipates fiscal 2014 adjusted earnings of $2.87 to $2.90 per share. Analysts predict $2.93.

S&P lifts debt ratings on 2 big homebuilders

Standard & Poor’s has raised its debt ratings for homebuilders D.R. Horton Inc. and PulteGroup Inc., saying it expects the companies’ revenue to grow over the next 12 months as home sales and prices pick up.

That should help improve the companies’ profitability and strengthen their credit risk profile, the credit rating firm said Wednesday.

Both builders have operations in the Charleston region, where the housing industry is recovering from a long slowdown.

Starbucks pleased with ruling on baristas’ tips

A Starbucks Corp. spokeswoman says the coffee house company is pleased New York’s top court has agreed baristas don’t have to share their tips with assistant managers.

A spokeswoman says Starbucks believes customers should be able to directly reward their baristas and shift supervisors who also serve patrons.

The Court of Appeals found that shift supervisors do much of the same work as the coffee servers and therefore get to share in the tips. The court also ruled that the company can deny those tips to assistant managers who work full time, receive some benefits and are eligible for bonuses.

Hospitality industry groups say the state court decision will be felt far beyond shops owned by the Seattle-based Starbucks.

Staff and wire reports