Wall Street exhales as threat of default eases

NEW YORK — You can almost hear Wall Street exhaling.

The Dow Jones industrial average soared Thursday after Republican leaders and the president seemed willing to end a budget standoff. The news drove the Dow to its biggest point rise this year and ended a three-week funk in stocks.

The blue-chip index jumped 323.09, or 2.2 percent, to close at 15,126.07. The S&P 500 rose 36.16, or 2.2 percent, to 1,692.56. The Nasdaq rose 82.97, or 2.3 percent, to 3,760.75.

Retailers show modest September sales gains

NEW YORK — Several retailers reported modest sales gains for September as shoppers worried about a partial government shutdown and the overall economy pulled back their spending from the prior month.

The results increase concerns about how shoppers will spend for the holiday season, the largest shopping selling period.

Revenue at stores opened at least a year — a measure of a retailer’s health— rose 2.7 percent in September, according to a preliminary tally of 9 retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers. That was a slower pace than the 3.5 percent increase posted in August.

Facebook users can no longer hide identities

NEW YORK — Facebook is getting rid of a privacy feature that let users limit who can find them on the social network.

Facebook said Thursday that it is removing a setting that controls whether users could be found when people type their name into the website’s search bar. Facebook says only a single-digit percentage of the nearly 1.2 billion people on its network were using the setting.

No word on Mulally as Ford meeting wraps up

DETROIT — Ford’s board ended a two-day quarterly meeting Thursday without issuing a statement on the future of CEO Alan Mulally. Microsoft is reportedly considering Mulally as a replacement for CEO Steve Ballmer. A spokesman said there was no change in Mulally’s plan to remain through at least the end of 2014.

Starbucks customers to see petitions in stores

NEW YORK — Starbucks, known for its piping hot coffee, is throwing itself in the middle of yet another heated national debate. The world’s biggest coffee chain said Thursday that it will ask customers and businesses to sign a petition calling for an end to the partial government shutdown that has forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job.

The petition, which will be available at all Starbucks 11,000 U.S. locations to sign beginning Friday, calls for reopening the government, paying debts on time and passing a long-term budget deal by the end of the year. In addition to Starbucks customers, the company is trying to get the CEOs of the nation’s largest companies to sign.

Founders of BlackBerry might acquire business

TORONTO — BlackBerry founders Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin are weighing taking over the struggling smartphone company as it searches for a buyer.

Lazaridis said Thursday in a filing that he and Fregin are looking to potentially acquire the 92 percent of the shares they don’t currently own, either by themselves or with other interested parties. The filing said Lazaridis and Fregin own 8 percent of BlackBerry.

Hershey’s soft caramels 1st new line in decades

Chew this. The Hershey Co. is launching a new candy brand, its first new brand in 30 years, a soft caramel creme line called Lancaster. And for the first time it is taking a double barreled approach, debuting the candy in the U.S. and China at once.

Wire reports