Speculation about rates, home loans drives stocks

NEW YORK — Wall Street rallied once again Thursday as investors bet companies hurt by the housing crisis will benefit from a government plan to help financially stretched homeowners and from another interest rate cut.

Target helped after releasing lackluster sales and a dour outlook. While bad for profits, weak consumer spending supports the argument for the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrials rose 174.93, or 1.30 percent, to 13,619.89. Broader stock indicators also extended their gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 22.33, or 1.50 percent, to 1,507.34, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 42.67, or 1.60 percent, to 2,709.30.

Ford recalls vehicles with diesels to repair sensors

WASHINGTON — Ford said Thursday it is recalling 1.17 million trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans to fix an engine sensor that could lead to engine stalling.

The recalled vehicles are all from the 1997-2003 model years with 7.3 liter diesel engines. Ford said there have been 14 accidents associated with the problem, but no injuries reported.

Dealers will inspect the sensor and replace it free of charge. The recall is expected to begin around Dec. 17. Owners can contact Ford at 866-436-7332.

Dell extends plans to sell PCs through retail chains

DALLAS — Dell Inc. is venturing further from its direct-to-consumer sales model and will start selling its XPS and Inspiron notebook and desktop computers at more than 900 Best Buy stores in January.

Best Buy complements Dell's U.S. retail lineup. The company already sells modestly priced PCs in about 3,000 Wal-Mart stores and targets small-business owners with sales at 1,400 Staples stores.

Krispy Kreme narrows losses, but revenues slip

CHARLOTTE — Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. said Thursday its losses narrowed substantially in its third quarter compared to results weighed down by charges for store closures a year ago.

The company said its losses for the quarter ended Oct. 28 narrowed to $798,000 from $7.2 million for the same period last year. Revenue fell almost 12 percent to $103.4 million. The doughnut chain said it expects more franchised store closures.

Ex-UnitedHealth CEO to surrender millions

MINNEAPOLIS — Former United-Health Group Inc. CEO William McGuire has agreed to surrender more than $400 million to settle a lawsuit related to a stock-options backdating scandal, the company and the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Thursday.

McGuire, who stepped down a year ago as the highest profile CEO caught in the probe, will give up $320 million in stock options and forgo more than $99 million in other benefits.

McGuire did not admit or deny guilt.