Commodities rally spur broader gains in stocks
NEW YORK -- Widespread gains in commodity prices lifted energy and materials companies as part of a broad stock market rally Wednesday after three days of declines. Stocks built on morning gains after the Federal Reserve released minutes that showed that officials agreed that the economy is improving, which could lead to higher demand for raw materials like steel and fertilizer.
--The Dow Jones industrial average added 80.60 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 12,560.18.
--The S&P index rose 11.70, or 0.9 percent, to 1,340.68.
--The Nasdaq composite gained 31.79, or 1.1 percent, to 2,815.
GM preparing to boost electric car production
DETROIT -- General Motors says it will reconfigure the factory that makes the Chevrolet Volt so it can produce up to 60,000 electric cars per year. Currently the plant in Detroit can make about 16,000 of the cars annually.
The Volt can run on battery power for about 35 miles before a gas-powered motor kicks in to generate electricity to run the car. It can be recharged through a home electrical outlet.
Jailed Enron executive moves to halfway house
HOUSTON -- Federal prison officials have moved the former finance chief of failed energy giant Enron Corp. from a prison in Louisiana to a halfway house in Houston.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows Andrew Fastow was moved from a Pollack, La., prison to a low-security community corrections facility in Houston. The Houston Chronicle reports he'll likely remain there until Dec. 17.
Hershey's CEO resigns, to run Del Monte Foods
HARRISBURG, Pa. -- After leading The Hershey Co. to three years of strong performances, CEO David West is leaving to take the top job at the smaller Del Monte Foods Co. in a surprise move.
Del Monte Foods said that West will become its CEO on Aug. 15. Hershey chief operating officer John Bilbrey was named interim CEO.
West, 47, was promoted to Hershey's top job in 2007. Under West, sales grew from $5.13 billion in 2008 to $5.67 billion in 2010.
CEO: Southwest Airlines to see relief from oil prices
DALLAS -- The CEO of Southwest Airlines expects his airline to catch a break from the recent drop in oil prices and says bookings for early summer look strong.
Southwest Airlines said Wednesday that it expects its 2011 fuel bill to rise $1.3 billion over last year's $3.62 billion. It previously forecast a $1.5 billion jump.
CEO Gary Kelly said May and June bookings are strong, but he's worried whether the company can raise fares fast enough to cover high fuel costs. Southwest already has raised fares seven times this year.
Southwest began serving Charleston in March with seven daily flights to four cities.
Tighter rules advanced for credit rating firms
WASHINGTON -- The Securities and Exchange Commission advanced tighter rules for public comment Wednesday for agencies that rate the debt of companies and governments.
The big three rating agencies -- Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings -- were criticized for helping fuel the 2008 financial crisis by giving low-risk ratings to high-risk mortgage securities.
The new rules would force agencies to provide more details about how they determine each rating.