Business Briefs: U.S. stocks receive boost from gains in Europe, China

Jerry Yang

Paul Sakuma

NEW YORK -- Slight improvements in Europe's troubled debt markets and China's economy were enough to lift stocks Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average had its highest close since July 26, before the Europe's debt crisis set off months of volatility. The Dow is up 264 points so far this year, its best start since 2003.

Debt auctions by Spain, Greece and Europe's bailout fund drew solid interest from investors, easing fears that recent credit-rating downgrades. The Chinese government said earlier that its economy slowed less dramatically in the fourth quarter than expected.

There's so much money sitting in short-term accounts and earning zero return that a shred of good news can jolt the market higher, said David Kelly, chief market strategist with J.P. Morgan Funds.

--The Dow rose 60.01, or 0.5 percent, to close at 12,482.07.

--The S&P 500 gained 4.58, or 0.4 percent, to 1,293.67.

--The Nasdaq index added 17.41, or 0.6 percent, to 2,728.08.

Yahoo co-founder Yang resigns from all positions

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang is leaving the struggling company. His surprise departure, announced Tuesday, comes two weeks after Yahoo hired former PayPal executive Scott Thomson as chief executive.

Yang supported Thompson in his resignation from the board of directors. Yang is leaving the boards of China's Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan and is giving up his title as "chief Yahoo." Yang had alienated shareholders by turning down a $47.5 billion takeover offer from Microsoft in 2008.

Wells Fargo's net income jumps as Citigroup's slides

LOS ANGELES -- Wells Fargo reported a 20 percent jump in fourth-quarter net income Tuesday, with better-than-expected returns from its mortgage unit, while Citigroup's earnings declined 11 percent on weakness in its investment bank operations.

The results underscored how the turbulent financial markets have affected banks with big Wall Street sales and trading operations, such as Citi.

Wells Fargo, by contrast, is more focused on consumer businesses. The bank, the Charleston region's largest, said revenue from community banking was up 30 percent year over year.

Panama Canal widening project workers on strike

PANAMA CITY -- About 6,000 employees have gone on strike for higher wages at a $5.25 billion project to widen the Panama Canal to accommodate larger ships. Workers representative Rolando Gonzalez said the employees want the base wage raised from $2.90 per hour to $4.90, and the wage for the most skilled workers raised from $3.52 per hour to $7.10. He said the strike will continue indefinitely.