Stocks end higher, led by strong US auto sales

A jump in U.S. auto sales and other good news on the economy helped drive the stock market higher Wednesday.

General Motors and other carmakers surged after posting strong sales in August, giving the industry its best month in six years. Honda reported the biggest gain with sales up almost 27 percent over August of last year. Toyota sales rose nearly 23 percent, while Nissan was up 22 percent. At GM, sales were up almost 15 percent. Chrysler and Ford each reported 12 percent gains.

Sales in August ran at an annual rate of 16.1 million cars and trucks, a pace not seen since November of 2007, a month before the start of the Great Recession.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 96.91 to close at 14,930.87. The S&P 500 index rose 13.31 to 1,653.08. The Nasdaq rose 36.43 to 3,649.04.

Fed survey: economy is growing moderately

Economic growth held steady across the United States from July through late August, as Americans bought more cars and homes and auto factories added workers.

A Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday showed that all 12 of the Fed’s regional banking districts reported modest to moderate growth. That’s roughly in line with the Fed’s previous survey.

The survey said that job growth was steady and that hiring in manufacturing improved modestly, especially at auto and auto-parts factories.

The survey is based on anecdotal reports from businesses gathered by the Fed’s regional banks. The information was gathered for the Fed’s next meeting on Sept. 17-18.

P&G to debut cheaper Tide detergent option

NEW YORK — Procter & Gamble will introduce a lower-priced version of Tide in 2014, a liquid detergent called “Tide Simply Clean and Fresh,” as it seeks to attract shoppers on a budget.

P&G is known for premium products like Tide and Bounty that cost more than competitors but are perceived by customers to be of higher quality.

But as growth in developed markets has slowed and P&G expands in emerging markets, the company has been working to become more balanced in its offerings, with more goods at both the low and high end of the price spectrum.

Tide Simply Clean and Fresh is one of several new detergent products P&G plans to introduce in February. P&G didn’t give specific pricing information

Nasdaq Stock Market has brief system glitch

The Nasdaq Stock Market said Wednesday that one of its trading systems had a brief outage, but the problem was resolved and trading was not affected.

The six-minute laet morning outage occurred in one of the quote dissemination channels, which are used to provide real-time price quotes on stocks. The companies affected by the outage have stock tickers PC through SPZ.

The exchange endured a three-hour trading outage Aug. 22. That outage was also blamed on the price quote disseminating system.

Airbus gets order for 40 jets from Delta Air

PARIS — Boeing rival Airbus said Delta Air Lines has placed a firm order for 40 aircraft including 10 of its widebody A330-300s.

The company said Wednesday that the order, which also includes 30 single-aisle A321ceos, is Delta’s first with the European jet maker in about two decades.

Airbus says many of Delta’s A321s are expected to be assembled at its planned assembly line in Mobile, Ala., currently under construction.

Wire reports