NEW YORK -- It was another day of big swings in the stock market. The Dow Jones industrial average surged 260 points shortly after the opening bell, then turned mixed. A burst of buying in the last half-hour of trading sent the Dow higher.

Financial stocks had the biggest gains. Traders were relieved that Germany passed a measure to expand the powers of a regional bailout fund. That eased worries that U.S. banks could be buffeted by more turmoil in Europe's financial system.

Investors struggled to make sense of conflicting reports. First-time applications for jobless benefits fell to a five-month low. The government also raised its estimate of economic growth in the April-June period.

Other reports were weak. A trade group reported that CEOs of the nation's largest companies are more pessimistic than three months ago. Also, fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in August. All of that contributed to another day of ups and downs on the stock market.

Tractor Supply to open Awendaw store on Saturday

AWENDAW -- The newest Tractor Supply Co. store in metro Charleston opens Saturday in Awendaw. The 19,097-square-foot retail farm and ranch supply store chain's new shop is at 4765 U.S. Highway 17, across from Sewee Restaurant. It will employ 12 workers. The Brentwood, Tenn.-based chain has two other local stores, in Ravenel and Summerville.

H&R Block ends service under ExpressTax name

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- H&R Block is stopping service under its ExpressTax brand, which helped people who filed their taxes early and wanted refunds quickly. The news comes a little over two weeks after the nation's biggest tax preparer announced that it won't offer refund anticipation loans next season because it's getting more new clients and the appeal of the high-cost loans is shrinking.

Rates on mortgages fall, likely to decline further

WASHINGTON -- Fixed mortgage rates have fallen to historic new lows for a fourth straight week and are likely to fall further.

The average on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.01 percent from 4.09 percent this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That's the lowest rate since the mortgage buyer began keeping records in 1971. The last time long-term rates were lower was in 1951. The average on a 15-year fixed mortgage ticked down to 3.28 percent. Economists say that's the lowest rate ever for the loan.