S&P 500 index logs its best week of the year

NEW YORK - The stock market closed out its best week of the year on Friday as investors focused on company earnings. Campbell Soup climbed after reporting earnings that beat estimates. Cliffs Natural Resources, a mining company, also jumped after its earnings beat expectations and the company named a new CEO.

The S&P 500 has wiped out almost all of its loss for the year, and is now just 10 below its record close of 1,848 reached Jan. 15. The index gained 8.80 to close at 1,838.63. Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 126.80 to 16,154.39. The Nasdaq rose 3.35 to 4,244.03.

Comcast-TWC merger is worrying consumers

LOS ANGELES - Cable subscribers don't give Comcast and Time Warner Cable good grades when it comes to customer satisfaction. So after Comcast announced its $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable Thursday, it didn't take long for consumers to start venting their frustrations over high prices, spotty service and fears of a monopoly.

The pairing of the nation's two biggest cable companies spurred a cascade of sarcastic tweets and satirical jokes in which people likened the new entity to the killer Death Star battle station from "Star Wars" and the evil Eye of Sauron from "The Lord of the Rings." The jokes reflect a more serious sentiment among consumers.

Jos. A. Bank acquiring Eddie Bauer for $825M

NEW YORK - After months of flirting with the idea of combining with a rival, Jos. A. Bank has decided it is better suited for another men's clothing brand.

Or has it?

The chain known for its men's suits and 2-for-1 sales said Friday that it struck a deal to buy the parent of Eddie Bauer, which sells rugged outerwear. The deal was reached with Everest Topco to buy Everest Holdings in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $825 million.

But the acquisition, which comes as Jos. A. Bank is being pursued by Men's Wearhouse Inc., isn't written in stone: Jos. A. Bank said Friday that it may end the Eddie Bauer deal if it receives an acquisition offer that is superior. The deal comes in the middle of an extended courtship between Jos. A. Bank and Men's Wearhouse.

Frigid weather causes factory output to drop

WASHINGTON - Harsh winter weather led to a steep drop in U.S. factory output in January. Manufacturers made fewer cars and trucks, appliances, furniture and carpeting, as the recent cold spell ended five straight months of increased production

The Federal Reserve said factory production plunged 0.8 percent in January, reversing gains of 0.3 percent in both December and November. Automakers lost days of production because of snowstorms, as their production plummeted 5.1 percent, the report said.

Overall industrial production, which includes manufacturing, mining and utilities, fell 0.3 percent in January. Output for utilities rose 4.1 percent last month as the freezing temperatures boosted heating demand.

Eurozone accelerating but job growth elusive

BRUSSELS - Europe's economy is growing faster, raising hopes for a sustainable recovery, but that may not be enough to bring sky-high levels of unemployment down soon.

The economy of the euro bloc grew 0.3 percent in the October-December period from the previous quarter, the Eurostat statistics office said Friday. That was slightly more than expected and up from the third quarter's 0.1 percent. The recovery remains tepid, at least by global standards.

Wire reports