Upbeat earnings push stocks higher

NEW YORK -- Encouraging earnings news drew investors back into the stock market one day after a big drop. Upbeat quarterly reports from the Walt Disney Co. as well as retailers Abercrombie & Fitch and J.C. Penney offset worries about a slide in consumer confidence.

Disney said late Thursday that higher revenue at its cable, broadcast and movie studio divisions helped drive profits up 18 percent.

Abercrombie's results were better than expected, while J.C. Penney raised its income and sales forecasts.

The market stumbled briefly in morning trading after a report found that the mood of consumers darkened this month. The preliminary Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for November came in at 66.0, down from 70.6 in October.

That could bode poorly for the all-important holiday shopping season for retailers.

Ports agency adds VP to its sales staff

The State Ports Authority created a new position, vice president of carrier sales, and hired former N.C. State Ports Authority container logistics director Sarah Gaillard to fill it.

A Charleston native who attended the College of Charleston, Gaillard brings more than 33 years of experience in shipping, including a stint as vice president of sales for Palmetto Shipping and Stevedoring Co.

Gaillard starts the job Jan. 4 with an annual salary of $150,000. She reports to Paul McClintock, the maritime agency's senior vice president and chief commercial officer.

Nonstop to Miami launches Thursday

American Eagle, a regional partner of American Airlines, launches its daily nonstop service from Charleston to Miami on Thursday

The new flight, the only nonstop between Charleston and South Florida, will use 50-passenger jets and offer connections to 14 cities in Florida, the Caribbean, the Bahamas and Latin America.

American Eagle officials said the new service is part of an expansion at Miami International Airport.

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PC giant Dell plans to delve into phones

NEW YORK -- Dell Inc. officially announced Friday it will enter the wireless business by year's end, starting with the sale of its new Mini 3 smart phone in China and Brazil.

The personal computer giant said the device, capable of delivering third-generation, or 3G, wireless services, will be based on Google's Android software.

More details will be released as the phone becomes available at different carriers, Dell said.

Largest cruise ship docks at Florida port

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The world's largest cruise ship -- the 16-deck Oasis of the Seas -- docked Friday at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. It set sail from Finland to Florida in late October.

The massive $1.5 billion vessel is nearly 40 percent larger than the industry's next-biggest ship and five times larger than the Titanic. It has 2,700 cabins and can accommodate 6,300 passengers and 2,100 crew members.

The Oasis of the Seas will embark on its first cruise Dec. 5.