Stocks go higher on improved global view
NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose Thursday, lifting the S&P 500 to a five-year closing high, after data from China bolstered the view of an improving global economy.
December export data from China beat expectations, while European Central Bank President Mario Draghi projected the eurozone’s economy would bounce back this year.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 80.71 to 13,471.22. Five days after closing at its highest level since December 2007, the S&P 500 cleared its five-year closing high again and added 11.10, to 1,472.12.
The Nasdaq composite ended at 3,121.76, up 15.95.
Bank of South Carolina posts higher net profits
The Bank of South Carolina Corp. said its fourth-quarter profit rose 19 percent, lifting its gains for all of 2012. The Charleston-based lender said it earned $992,173, or 22 cents a share, for the September-December period.
For all last year, Bank of South Carolina reported $3.66 million in net income, a 15 percent increase from 2011. On a per-share basis, profits totaled 82 cents for 2012.
A sharp increase in revenue from mortgage lending helped drive net income higher, said CEO Fleetwood S. Hassell. “We were quite pleased with the bank’s earnings for 2012, which were the third-best in our company’s history,” he said.
Charleston inn closing section for renovations
A 32-room section of the historic Andrew Pinckney Inn overlooking Charleston’s City Market will be closed until February for renovations. The redesign will include a lighter paint scheme in the rooms and restyling bathrooms with hand-laid, floor-to-ceiling Italian porcelain tile showers, granite countertops, new fixtures and spa-quality amenities.
Guest accommodations will remain open in the 40 Pinckney St. building. The circa-1840 boutique hotel is managed by Charlestowne Hotels.
New rules aim to curb risky mortgage loans
WASHINGTON — Federal regulators for the first time are laying out rules aimed at ensuring that mortgage borrowers can afford to repay the loans they take out.
The rules unveiled Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau impose a range of obligations and restrictions on lenders, including bans on risky “interest-only” and “no-documentation” loans that helped fuel the housing bubble.
Lenders will be required to verify and inspect borrowers’ financial records. The rules discourage them from saddling borrowers with total debt payments totaling more than 43 percent of a person’s annual income.
Emails are released on Wal-Mart bribe probe
NEW YORK — Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke found out in 2005 that the retailer’s Mexico unit was handing out bribes to local officials, according to emails obtained by lawmakers. The emails contradict earlier claims by Wal-Mart senior executives that they weren’t aware of bribes being made by the company.
Democratic Congressmen Elijah E. Cummings and Henry A. Waxman, who are investigating bribery charges at Wal-Mart’s Mexico division, released emails Thursday that indicate that Duke and other senior Wal-Mart officials were informed multiple times starting in 2005 about bribes being made in the country. U.S. law forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials.
The lawmakers said they received the emails from a confidential source.
Staff and wire reports