Stocks surge on news about stimulus easing

NEW YORK - The stock market had a swift and clear reaction to the Federal Reserve's decision to trim its stimulus efforts: This wasn't so bad.

Stocks surged Wednesday after the Fed said was time to start scaling back its program to boost U.S. growth and stocks.

Investors didn't think it would happen until 2014. Despite the surprise, they took the decision as a sign the stock market was strong enough to keep soaring, even with less Fed fuel.

The Dow jumped 292.71, or nearly 2 percent, to 16,167.97 for another all-time high. The S&P 500 rose 29.65, also 2 percent, to 1,810.65. The Nasdaq rose 46.38, or 1 percent, to 4,070.06.

Home construction at highest pace in 5 years

WASHINGTON - U.S. builders broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years, strong evidence that the housing recovery is accelerating despite higher mortgage rates.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday builders began work on houses and apartments in November at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million. That's 23 percent more than October's pace and the fastest since February 2008.

Construction of single-family homes jumped 21 percent. Apartment construction soared 26 percent.

Delta: Voice calls on its airplanes won't be OK

MINNEAPOLIS - Delta Air Lines won't allow passengers to make voice calls from its planes.

Right now, federal rules prohibit voice calls on planes. But the government is indicating that it might loosen those rules. If that happens, it could be up to airlines to set their own policies. On Wednesday, Delta went ahead and said, in effect, hang up and enjoy the view from 40,000 feet.

CEO Richard Anderson told workers in a memo that the airline will not allow cell calls or Internet-based voice communications on mainline or Delta Connection flights. Delta is the most widely flown carrier at Charleston International.

JPMorgan Chase suing FDIC for more than $1B

NEW YORK - JPMorgan is suing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to recover more than $1 billion tied to its purchase of Washington Mutual when WaMu failed in 2008.

The biggest U.S. bank said that the FDIC failed to honor obligations under the agreement, and that has subjected JP Morgan to massive liability.

The FDIC became the receiver for WaMu when it collapsed in the largest bank failure in U.S. history. The FDIC brokered the sale to JP Morgan for $1.9 billion. JPMorgan said the FDIC made promises to indemnify or protect the bank against liabilities if it stepped in.

Ford issies warning on pricing, profit margins

DETROIT - Ford Motor warned of tough price competition and harder-to-reach profit targets Wednesday, a sign that the company and the industry face a tougher road after four years of robust recovery.

Ford said its pretax profit next year would drop as much as $1.5 billion below a near-record level of $8.5 billion in 2013. The company will have to slow price increases in North America or even boost discounts on some models, and its costs will rise because of a launch of almost two dozen vehicles worldwide.

U.K. to start to issuing plastic banknotes in '16

LONDON - The Bank of England says it will start issuing plastic bank notes for the first time in its 300-year history.

The decision comes after research found plastic notes stay cleaner longer, are more difficult to counterfeit and last longer than cotton paper.

Cash made from polymer will debut in 2016, when a new 5 pound note featuring late Prime Minister Winston Churchill rolls out.

Staff and wire reports