Dow flips from a 2-day slide to triple-digit gain

Strong earnings from big U.S. companies pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to a rare triple-digit gain Friday, but the S&P 500 index still posted its first weekly loss of the year.

Hewlett-Packard had the biggest gain in the Dow and the S&P 500. It posted fiscal earnings late Thursday that beat all forecasts, a relief after months of bad news for the computer maker. H-P rose $2.10, or 12.3 percent, to $19.20.

The Dow closed up 119.95 at 14,000.57, its third-biggest gain this year. The S&P 500 rose 13.18 to 1,515.60. The Nasdaq index rose 30.33 to 3,161.82.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed slightly lower for the week; the Dow edged up.

Olive Garden’s owner warns about slower 3Q

Darden Restaurants, struggling to draw more customers into its Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, predicted a third-quarter profit Friday that was below expectations and cut its outlook for the year.

The chain has tried to revamp menus and marketing for its flagship chains, but revenue at Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse locations open at least one year is expected to fall 4.5 percent in the quarter ending Feb. 24, indicating those efforts have yet to pay off.

CEO Clarence Otis said the first half of the fiscal third quarter was “encouraging,” but higher payroll taxes and rising gas prices, along with severe winter weather, sent sales sliding in February.

Maersk owner’s Q4 net earnings hit nearly $1B

Shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk said its fourth-quarter earnings reached the equivalent of $975 million thanks to improved rates and costs in its container unit, which is the world’s largest.

The owner of the Maersk Line said revenue for the three-month period ticked up nearly 3 percent on an annual basis to $15 billion.

Maersk, which is seen as a bellwether for international trade, said full-year profits for 2012 rose 6 percent to $60 billion, while revenue soared 23 percent. CEO Nils S. Andersen described the result as “satisfactory.”

Maersk is major user of the Port of Charleston.

Americans spent over $53B on pets last year

The economy may have remained sluggish last year, but Americans refused to scrimp on their pets, with animal lovers spending upward of $53 billion on food, veterinary care, kennels and other services in 2012.

That’s up 5 percent from 2011, when spending first broke the $50 billion barrier, said the American Pet Products Association. Food and vet care represented about two-thirds of the total.

Japan identifies some Boeing 787 problems

Japanese investigators have identified the causes of fuel leaks and other problems with Boeing’s 787.

An oil leak was caused by an improper paint job that led to a switch not working properly, while inadequate taping led to cracks in cockpit glass, and a faulty part led to braking problems, according to the Transport Ministry’s investigation released Friday into problems that occurred with the 787 Dreamliner in January.

The government issued orders to fix the problems with 787s operated by Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, the country’s two major carriers and the biggest customers for Boeing’s new jet.

Boeing assembles the Dreamliner at factories in North Charleston and Everett, Wash.

Staff and wire reports