Despite Nasdaq glitch, stocks end session up

NEW YORK — The stock market rose Thursday despite a glitch on the Nasdaq exchange and poor results from some retailers. Encouraging economic figures from Asia and Europe helped stocks advance and break a six-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average.

Sears dropped 8.2 percent to $39.72 after the company said its second-quarter loss widened. Abercrombie & Fitch fell 18 percent to $38.53 after it said declining traffic and weakness in girls’ clothing pushed its profit down 33 percent.

The Dow rose 66.19 to close at 14,963.74. The S&P 500 rose 14.16 to 1,656.96. The Nasdaq rose 38.92 to 3,638.71.

Mortgage rates tick up, now at two-year high

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose this week to their highest levels in two years, driven by heightened speculation that the Federal Reserve will slow its bond purchases later this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan jumped to 4.58 percent, up from 4.4 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.60 percent from 3.44 percent. Both averages are the highest since July 2011.

Last week’s spike comes after more Fed members signaled they could be open to reducing the bond buys as early as September. The purchases have helped keep mortgage rates low.

Penney adopts ‘poison pill’ to thwart takeover

Struggling retailer J.C. Penney is adopting a plan to prevent a takeover attempt just two days after reporting its sixth straight quarter of big losses and steep revenue declines. It’s the second time in recent years that the company has put into place a so-called “poison pill” plan.

Penney said there is no current attempt to take over the company. However, the plan announced Thursday can be put into effect if someone acquires 10 percent or more of the stock. The defense strategy allows existing shareholders to buy more shares at a very low price if that occurs.

Airlines seek Nov. court date for merger lawsuit

DALLAS — American Airlines and US Airways are asking for a November trial to settle the government’s lawsuit against their proposed merger.

The merger was steaming toward final approval this month when the U.S. Justice Department and six states threw up a roadblock. They are suing to stop the merger, saying it will reduce competition and lead to higher fares and extra fees for consumers. Both airlines serve Charleston.

UPS is ending spousal coverage in some cases

United Parcel Service is ending health-insurance benefits for employees’ spouses who can get coverage elsewhere. It blames the change on the new health-care law.

UPS estimates that 15,000 of 33,000 spouses can get coverage from their own employer and will be dropped from the UPS plan.

In a memo to employees, UPS indicates that in 2014 it expects about 35 percent of all employers to exclude working spouses who can get insurance from their own employers.

UPS cites the 2010 health care law promoted by President Barack Obama for the change. The company says that it considered letting employees pay extra to cover their working spouses but decided that would be difficult to do.

Staff and wire reports