Rising dollar, falling oil prices give stocks a jolt

NEW YORK — Wall Street shot higher Thursday as investors viewed the rising dollar and falling oil prices as promising for the economy.

The long-suffering dollar rose again on better-than-expected economic data and the Federal Reserve's apparent resolve to monitor inflation. That, coupled with the end of an oil workers' strike in Nigeria, helped crude fall and settle at $112.52.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 189.87, or 1.48 percent, to 13,010.00, its first finish above 13,000 since Jan. 3.

Broader stock indicators also advanced. The S&P 500 rose 23.75, or 1.71 percent, to 1,409.34, breaking 1,400 for the first time since Jan. 14. The Nasdaq index climbed 67.91, or 2.81 percent, to 2,480.71, its highest close since Jan. 10.

Exxon Mobil's profit up 17% as crude costs climb

HOUSTON — Exxon Mobil Corp. said Thursday that record crude prices helped its first-quarter profit climb 17 percent to $10.9 billion for the second-biggest U.S. quarterly corporate profit ever. Revenue rose 34 percent to $116.8 billion.

But the results fell short of Wall Street forecasts. The company said its refining business limited its earnings growth because crude prices rose even faster than the increase drivers see at the pump.

Home Depot to close 15 underperforming stores

ATLANTA — Home Depot put the brakes Thursday on some of its future expansion plans and said it would do what was previously unthinkable — close 15 of its underperforming flagship stores.

It is the first time the home improvement chain has ever closed a flagship store for performance reasons. The move, to be completed within the next two months, will affect 1,300 employees. None of the stores is in South Carolina.

Home Depot reiterated its intention to open 55 new stores in the 2009 fiscal year, but it will no longer pursue the opening of roughly 50 stores in the United States.

West Coast dockworkers stay home, citing protest

LOS ANGELES — Thousands of dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports took the day off Thursday in what their union called a protest of the war in Iraq, effectively shutting down operations.

The show of force by the union came two months before the contract expires between the dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents port operators and large shippers.

At the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday, however, there were no anti-war activities.

Rates for 30-year home loans remain above 6%

WASHINGTON — Rates on 30-year mortgages remained above 6 percent Thursday, edging up to the highest level in seven weeks and reflecting continued financial market concerns about inflation.

Freddie Mac said Thursday that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.06 percent this week, up slightly from 6.03 percent last week.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular refinancing choice, dipped to 5.59 percent, down from 5.62 percent. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 5.73 percent, up from 5.68 percent last week. One-year ARMs were unchanged at 5.29 percent.