Market gains on drop in oil, revised GDP figures

NEW YORK — Stocks rose for a third-straight session Thursday as oil prices fell sharply and the government reported that the economy grew in the latest quarter at a faster pace than previously estimated.

A rising dollar helped push oil prices down by more than $4.41 per barrel to $126.62.

The revised reading of first-quarter gross domestic product helped ease concerns about recession.

The Commerce Department said the economy grew at a 0.9 percent annual rate, above the earlier estimate of 0.6 percent and the fourth-quarter increase of 0.6 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 52.19, or 0.41 percent, to 12,646.22.

The S&P 500 gained 7.42, or 0.53 percent, to 1,398.26. The Nasdaq composite index rose 21.62, or 0.87 percent, to 2,508.32.

Force Protection gives update on sales, income

Ladson-based armored-vehicle maker Force Protection Inc. told analysts Thursday it expects to report $875 million in revenue for 2007, up more than fourfold from 2006, mainly from an increase in military contracts.

It also said its profit last year would not change significantly from the $16.6 million it earned in 2006.

For the first quarter of 2008, the company projected sales of $400 million but provided no profit estimate.

Force Protection has not yet filed financial statements for 2007 and the first quarter of 2008 with the Securities and Exchange Commission because of accounting problems.

Force Protection has been warned twice this year that its stock could be removed from the Nasdaq exchange for failing to file the reports on time.

Bear Stearns' owners OK sale to JPMorgan Chase

NEW YORK —Bear Stearns Cos. shareholders approved JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s $2.2 billion buyout of the investment bank that, because of its bets on subprime mortgages, was the largest corporate casualty of the global credit crisis.

The vote at Bear Stearns' Manhattan headquarters Thursday means the company will become part of JPMorgan Chase by today.

The bank is buying Bear Stearns for about $10 a share. In January 2007, Bear Stearns had traded at $171 a share. Thursday's meeting lasted less than 10 minutes.

Some Bear Stearns investors said they were angered by the speed at which the deal was approved.

Sears Holdings posts loss as economy falters

CHICAGO — Battered retailer Sears Holdings Corp. on Thursday reported its largest quarterly loss since Sears and Kmart combined, providing surprising results far below forecasts.

The company said it lost $56 million in its first quarter compared with a year-earlier profit of $223 million.

Sears said customers were forced to spend more money to cover the soaring costs of gas and food, knocking down sales nearly 6 percent to $11.1 billion for the quarter.

Inflation worries weigh on mortgage loan rates

WASHINGTON — Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 6.08 percent this week as investors began to worry about what the Federal Reserve will do to combat inflation pressures.

That was up from 5.98 percent last week. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 5.66 percent, up from 5.55 percent last week.