Bank stocks spark Wall Street rally

NEW YORK — Investors are feeling more confident about putting their money in banks.

Financial stocks led the market higher Wednesday as reports trickled out that indicated balance sheets at the nation's biggest banks might not be as frayed as some had feared.

The word came a day ahead of the formal release of results from government "stress tests" aimed at determining which banks need to raise more capital. Investors relieved to have some answers scooped up shares of most banks, even those expected to have to come up with new money.

"To me, this rally has been more a recognition that maybe the end of the world is not at hand," said Philip S. Dow, managing director of equity strategy at RBC Wealth Management.

Ford retools plant to build new Focus

WAYNE, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. stripped "truck" from the name of one of its Detroit-area plants Wednesday as it announced plans to build its next-generation Focus here, including a battery-electric version Ford expects will run up to 100 miles without using gas or emitting greenhouse gas.

Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO Alan Mulally announced plans to invest $550 million to retool the plant, which once built hefty vehicles such as the Lincoln Navigator. The next-generation Focus is expected to roll off the line next year and the battery version is expected to debut in 2011.

Shift from land-line phones continues

WASHINGTON — For the first time, U.S. households opting for only mobile phones outnumber those that just have traditional land lines in a shift accelerated by the recession.

Twenty percent of households had only mobile phones during the last half of 2008, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey released Wednesday. That compared to 17 percent with land lines but no mobile phones.

Boston Globe and union strike a deal

BOSTON — The Boston Globe and its largest employees union reached a tentative deal early Wednesday on concessions that will keep the 137-year-old newspaper publishing.

The breakthrough came about 4 a.m. after nearly 11 hours of negotiations. Both sides agreed not to release details, pending a meeting of Guild members scheduled for today. The agreement is subject to approval by members of the Guild.

Santee Cooper to offer tax-free bonds

State-owned utility Santee Cooper said Wednesday that it plans to sell nearly $331 million in tax-exempt bonds this week. Maturities range from 2010 until 2044, and the proceeds will be spent on capital needs and to refinance some existing debt.

The newly issued bonds will be exempt from federal and state income taxes for South Carolina residents.

Insurer job fair set for N. Charleston

Insurance firm Liberty National is holding a job fair today from noon to 2 p.m. to fill 125 positions in Charleston, Columbia, Beaufort, Bluffton, Orangeburg, Florence, Myrtle Beach and surrounding areas.

The site is the Hilton Garden Inn, 5265 International Blvd., North Charleston. Interviews can be scheduled by calling 843-972-1948 or 877-344-7464.