Stocks rise ahead of Fed assessment

NEW YORK -- Investors are getting optimistic that the Federal Reserve will restart some of its economic stimulus programs. Stocks closed moderately higher Monday, a sign that many investors expect the Fed to take steps to put some energy back into the recovery.

Trading was very light as many investors stayed out of the market while they waited for the Fed's decision. The Fed's assessment of the economy, and any plans to resume stimulus measures, will be issued after its meeting today.

The Fed likely will leave its federal funds rate near zero. Its programs ended earlier this year when it appeared the recovery was proceeding well.

"The market loves stimulus. The market wants stimulus," said Joe Saluzzi, co-head of equity trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, N.J.

Skype plans to sell shares in offering

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Skype, the Internet phone service partly owned by online auction giant eBay, filed Monday for an initial public stock offering.

The company's owners include Silver Lake Partners and Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which joined to buy a controlling stake in Skype from eBay last year for about $2 billion.

In its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Skype did not reveal a price, date or the number of shares to be sold, but said the IPO would be worth as much as $100 million.

McDonald's posts big monthly gain

CHICAGO -- McDonald's Corp. posted its biggest monthly increase of a key U.S. sales figure in more than a year Monday, saying its new fruit smoothies and frappes were a hit with customers during a hot and steamy July.

In the U.S., sales at restaurants open at least 13 months climbed 5.7 percent -- its biggest monthly increase since it recorded a 6.1 percent gain in April 2009.

Overall, the measure rose 7 percent around the globe. It climbed 5.3 percent in Europe and 10.1 percent in the rest of the world, the chain said.

Sara Lee CEO quits after having stroke

NEW YORK -- Sara Lee Corp. chairman and CEO Brenda Barnes will step down permanently to focus on improving her health following a stroke, the food maker said Monday.

Barnes, 56, had been on temporary medical leave since May. She also will leave her position on the board. Chief financial officer Marcel Smits, who has been handling the CEO duties in her place, will continue to do so until a new CEO is named.

The food maker said its board has started a process to select a new CEO.

Time taps Griffin to become its CEO

NEW YORK -- Time Warner Inc. said Monday that it has named Jack Griffin the CEO of Time, succeeding Ann Moore, who will retire at the end of September. The move has been widely expected. Griffin left Meredith Corp., the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens, Parents and Fitness magazines among other titles, earlier this month.

Time Warner said Moore will stay on as chairwoman through the CEO transition. After that, Griffin will become chairman.