Obama's remarks don't rattle stocks

NEW YORK -- Stocks recovered from early losses and closed modestly higher Thursday after President Barack Obama's speech on financial reform contained no unpleasant surprises.

The market fell sharply early in the day on concerns about Greece's continuing debt problems. The country's borrowing costs surged again when Europe's statistics agency found that Greece's deficit last year was even larger than previously thought.

The findings pushed Greece closer to tapping loans from 15 European countries and the International Monetary Fund.

Also, Wall Street was worried early in the day that Obama would advocate tough restrictions on banks. When he didn't, stocks recovered.

US Airways cuts off talks with United

ATLANTA -- US Airways has broken off talks with United Airlines, leaving United to pursue a deal with Continental Airlines that would reshuffle the lineup in the airline industry.

US Airways didn't say Thursday why it ended talks with United, although Continental's involvement appears to have played a role.

Renewed discussions about airline consolidation come as fuel prices are on the rise. While demand for air travel has improved from recession lows, major carriers still are struggling to turn profits.

Two phone giants agree to hook up

NEW YORK -- CenturyTel, the country's fifth-largest local-phone company, said Thursday that it will buy Qwest Communications International, the third-largest, in a stock swap worth $10.6 billion to gain the benefits of scale in a shrinking business.

The combined company would have about 17 million lines serving customers in 37 states but still would be dwarfed by AT&T and Verizon Communications. It would be based at CenturyTel's headquarters in Monroe, La.

Amazon.com says profit surges 68%

SAN FRANCISCO -- Amazon.com said Thursday that its first-quarter profit surged 68 percent to $299 mill- ion, showing that consumers are even more comfortable opening their wallets to the online retailer as the economy slowly improves. Revenue rose 46 percent to $7.13 billion; analysts had predicted $6.87 billion.

Windows 7 drives Microsoft's income

REDMOND, Wash. -- Microsoft. said Thursday that its net income in the most recent quarter rose 35 percent to $4 billion, helped by strong sales of Windows 7. Revenue rose 6 percent to $14.5 billion; analysts had expected $14.4 billion.

Microsoft is the latest company to benefit from what seems to be a rebound in business spending on technology after the economic downturn. The company said Windows 7, its newest version, now runs on 10 percent of PCs.

Average mortgage rate is unchanged

McLEAN, Va. -- The average rates on 30-year mortgages didn't budge from last week, a new survey shows. Mortgage financier Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained at 5.07 percent.