S&P 500 closes above 1,800 for first time

The stock market brushed past another milestone on Friday.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed above 1,800 for the first time, capping seven straight weeks of gains.

The broader index is on track for its best performance in 15 years as a combination of solid corporate earnings, a strengthening economy and easy-money policies from the Federal Reserve draw investors to stocks. Stocks have also gained because they offer an attractive alternative to bonds, where interest rates remain close to all-time lows.

The S&P 500 index rose 8.91 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,804.76. The Dow Jones industrial average also continued its upward march after finishing above 16,000 for the first time Thursday. The index gained 54.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,064.77.

The Nasdaq composite rose 22.49 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,991.65.

Lawmakers urge bidding for gates in airline merger

— Four key members of Congress say that all airlines — not just low-fare carriers — should be able to bid on gates and landing rights that American Airlines and US Airways will give up after their merger.

The leaders of the House and Senate transportation committees say they’re worried that unless the big airlines can bid, service between Washington and some smaller cities may be lost.

The U.S. Justice Department settled a lawsuit challenging the merger earlier this month after American and US Airways agreed to give up gates and landing rights at several big airports, notably Washington’s Reagan National Airport. Officials said those assets would go to low-cost airlines because the big, so-called legacy airlines — the biggest being United and Delta — had stifled competition.

Lawmakers said that low-cost carriers don’t generally fly to smaller cities, so freezing out the big airlines won’t help consumers in those places.

Web inventor: Surveillance threatens democracy

— The scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web spoke out Friday against what he called a “growing tide of surveillance and censorship,” warning that it is threatening the future of democracy.

Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the Web in 1990, made the remarks as he released his World Wide Web Foundation’s annual report tracking the Web’s impact and global censorship. The index ranked Sweden first in Web access, openness and freedom, followed by Norway, the U.K. and the United States. Mali, Ethiopia and Yemen were at the bottom of the list.

German business confidence rebounds in November

— A key measure of German business confidence rebounded in November after a surprise decline the month before, indicating optimism remains in Europe’s biggest economy despite a sputtering recovery on the continent.

The Ifo index of business confidence, published Friday, rose to 109.3 points in November from 107.4 the previous month. October’s figure marked the first decline after five months of increases.

The November figures suggest Germany’s business community remains hopeful over the next six months even though recovery in the 17 countries that share the euro currency is rocky.

The Federal Statistics Office confirmed the German economy grew by 0.3 percent in the third quarter, due largely to government spending.

Alarm system companies merge in Charleston area

Alarm company Charleston Systems of Ladson has acquired Alarm Control Integrators Inc. of Charleston.

A division of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Jacksonville Sound & Communications Inc., which has six locations throughout the Southeast, Charleston Systems offers fire alarm and security alarm monitoring as well as sound and communication systems for businesses, industries and governments.

The company will operate as Charleston Systems. The merger will allow more sales support, technical management and product lines.

Staff and wire reports