Higher profits at Ford, others drive stocks up

NEW YORK — Another dose of strong corporate earnings, this time from Ford and others, helped push the stock market higher on Thursday.

It’s one of the busiest weeks on Wall Street for companies posting quarterly results. Roughly a third of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index will report earnings, including some of the world’s best-known companies.

For investors, this week has also been a welcome return to business as usual. Wall Street has been focused for weeks on what’s going on in Washington, with the government shutdown, the near-breach of the nation’s borrowing limit and questions about what’s next for the Federal Reserve’s massive bond-buying program.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 95.88 to close at 15,509.21 Thursday. The S&P 500 rose 5.69 to 1,752.07. The Nasdaq composite rose 21.89 to 3,928.96.

Fed suggest big banks hold more cash, assets

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve on Thursday proposed that big banks keep enough cash, government bonds and other high-quality assets on hand to survive during a severe downturn on par with the 2008 financial crisis.

The proposal subjects U.S. banks for the first time to so-called “liquidity” requirements, referring to the ability to access cash quickly. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said it would foster a more resilient and safer financial system, along with other reforms.

US 30-year mortgage is at an average of 4.13%

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages dropped this week to their lowest levels in four months, a positive sign for the housing recovery.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.13 percent. That’s down from 4.28 percent. The average on the 15-year fixed loan declined to 3.24 percent from 3.33 percent.

Bank of America to cut 4,200 mortgage jobs

CHARLOTTE — Bank of America is cutting about 4,200 jobs as it responds to changes in the housing market, echoing moves by other banks.

The country’s second-largest bank laid off 1,200 employees this week, primarily from a unit that handles mortgage origination, a spokesman said.The move is a response to a “significant” drop in refinancing applications.

By the end of the year, Bank of America plans to cut another 3,000 jobs. The bulk of those will be in its unit that handles troubled mortgages, such as foreclosures or loan modifications.

Microsoft profit, sales top Wall. Street views

LOS ANGELES — Microsoft posted quarterly revenue and earnings Thursday that easily topped Wall Street forecasts, marking a healthy start to a companywide overhaul it announced in July that should help the software giant transform into a devices and services company.

Microsoft’s net income in three months through Sept. 30 grew 17 percent to $5.24 billion from a year ago. Revenue rose 16 percent to $18.53 billion.

Southwest profit up on fares, cheaper fuel bills

DALLAS — Average fares are rising on Southwest Airlines Co., the fuel bill is shrinking, and profit is soaring.

Southwest said Thursdayits third-quarter net income jumped to $259 million from $16 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 5.5 percent to a record $4.55 billion. Analysts were expecting $4.54 billion, according to FactSet.

The airline is gearing up for the holiday season, and officials say that bookings for November and December are strong. The carrier serves Charleson.

Staff and wire reports