Oil prices increase, give stocks first gain of week

NEW YORK -- The oil rally is on again. Stocks closed higher Wednesday for the first day this week as rising oil prices offset worries about the global economic recovery. Oil rose nearly $2 to settle at $101.32 per barrel, pushing energy stocks higher.

Cabot Oil and Gas led the S&P 500, rising 7 percent. Higher prices for copper, silver and other commodities lifted miners and other material companies. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold gained 2 percent.

Markets have been battered in recent days by new worries over Europe's debt crisis. The last time stocks closed higher was Thursday, when investors welcomed a blockbuster initial public offering by the social networking site LinkedIn.

Martha Stewart Living seeking growth options

NEW YORK -- Martha Stewart thinks her brand is worth more. The company that bears her name, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, said Wednesday it has hired Blackstone Advisory Partners to explore partnerships and investments, triggering speculation the whole company is for sale.

The company also announced that its founder will rejoin its board in the third quarter following a five-year exclusion after a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in her insider trading case.

It's all part of a plan to quadruple the size of the brand to $1 billion, Stewart said. "Anything is possible," Stewart said.

Martha Stewart Living also announced former NBC executive Lisa Gersh will take over as president and chief operating officer June 6, with plans for her to later become CEO.

SEC: Whistleblowers to be offered cash awards

WASHINGTON -- Whistleblowers who report corporate fraud or other misconduct to the government could receive sizable cash awards under new rules adopted Wednesday by federal regulators.

Tipsters would be eligible if they give the Securities and Exchange Commission information that leads to an enforcement action resulting in more than $1 million in penalties. The SEC would pay up to 30 percent of the money it recovers from a company or person.

A divided SEC voted 3-2 to adopt the whistleblower program. The two Republican commissioners objected.

GM to add 2,500 jobs to make Malibus, Impalas

DETROIT -- General Motors says it will add 2,500 jobs at a Detroit-area plant that now makes the Chevrolet Volt electric car. The company plans to invest $69 million in the Detroit-Hamtramck factory and add two shifts of workers so the plant can make the new Chevrolet Malibu midsize car and the Impala large sedan.

Not all the jobs will be new hires. GM has about 1,300 laid-off workers waiting to be recalled in the United States.

GM announced May 10 that it would create or keep about 4,000 jobs by investing $2 billion in 17 factories in eight states. So far the company has announced expansion plans in Bowling Green, Ky., Toledo, Ohio, and Flint and Bay City, Mich.

Costco's membership fees help drive profits

ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Costco said Wednesday its third-quarter net income rose 6 percent to $324 million with growing membership numbers pushing sales both at home and abroad. Revenue climbed 16 percent to $20.62 billion, just edging out Wall Street expectations.