NEW YORK -- Stock indexes closed with broad gains Wednesday as international leaders scramble to save a week-old plan to prevent a financial crisis in Europe. Strong corporate earnings and a bump up in hiring by private companies also helped send markets higher after a steep two-day drop.
The fear of a wider financial crisis eased somewhat as revolt in Greece Prime Minister George Papandreou's government could scuttle a call for a referendum on a bailout. That would bring relief to investors by keeping the plan intact. Papandreou faces a confidence vote Friday.
France and Germany are expected to insist that the plan is the best way to solve Europe's debt problems.
--The Dow Jones industrial average gained 178.08, or 1.5 percent, to close at 11,836.04.
--The S&P 500 rose 19.62, or 1.6 percent, to 1,237.90.
--The Nasdaq composite rose 33.02, or 1.3 percent, to 2,639.98.
Fed's economic outlook more glum than before
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve sketched a bleaker outlook Wednesday for the economy, which it thinks will grow much more slowly and face higher unemployment than it had estimated in June.
The Fed's gloomier forecast shows the recovery from the recession has continued to fall short of expectations. Some economists said it makes the Fed more likely to act further to try to boost the economy.
One option would be a program similar to the Fed's $600 billion in Treasury bond purchases, which it completed in June. Some economists think the Fed could buy mortgage-backed securities instead, which could more directly support the depressed housing market by lowering loan rates.
At a news conference Wednesday, Chairman Ben Bernanke said that if conditions worsen, the Fed would consider buying more mortgage-backed securities . He declined to specify what would trigger such a move.
Profits, sales at grocer Whole Foods jump 12%
ST. LOUIS -- Whole Foods said Wednesday that its quarterly profit beat expectations as sales rose 12 percent. The organic grocery chain, which has a store in Mount Pleasant, said profits rose to $75.5 million. Revenue rose 12 percent to $2.35 billion.
Retailers Syms, Filene's to shutter all 46 stores
NEW YORK -- Discount retailer Syms and its subsidiary Filene's Basement have filed for bankruptcy protection and plan to close all 46 of their stores.
Syms acquired Filene's Basement out of bankruptcy court in 2009 for $62.4 million but struggled to turn the chain around. This is the third bankruptcy involving Filene's.
Syms and Filene's stores are mostly in the Eastern U.S. and employ about 2,450 workers. CEO Marcy Syms said the chains were hurt by increasing competition from department stores offering the same brands at similar discounts and by a rising number of private label discounters.
Blackbaud's shares get boost from profit report
Charleston-based Blackbaud Inc. shares climbed almost 7 percent Wednesday after the maker of software for nonprofit groups and the educational market said its net income rose 15 percent, helped by growth in subscription and services revenue. Blackbaud said late Tuesday that third-quarter net income was $9.8 million. Revenue rose 15 percent to $95.5 million.
Blackbaud also named Anthony Boor as chief financial officer to succeed the retiring Timothy Williams.
The company also announced a fourth-quarter dividend of 12 cents a share. It will be payable Dec. 15 to shareholders of record as of Nov. 28.
Shares of the Daniel Island company closed up $1.81 to $27.99.