Roundup: Stocks rise as investors assess earnings; Government says Bridgestone agrees to plead guilty; more

| Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Stocks rise on strong earnings

The stock market rose for the fifth time in six days on Thursday as higher earnings from several big companies helped investors shrug off discouraging news about jobs and retail spending. Investors' focus has returned to company earnings after concerns about growth in emerging markets and the health of the economy pushed the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its lowest level in more than three months at the start of February. Analysts at S&P Capital IQ expect that earnings at companies in the index increased last quarter at the fastest pace in a year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 10.57 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,829.83. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 63.65 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,027.59. The Nasdaq composite rose 39.38 points, or 0.9 percent, to 4,240.67.

Bridgestone agrees to plead guilty

Bridgestone Corp. has agreed to plead guilty in a price-fixing conspiracy and pay a $425 million criminal fine in a Justice Department investigation that has swept the automotive parts industry. Twenty-six companies including Tokyo-based Bridgestone have pleaded guilty or agreed to plead guilty in the Justice Department's ongoing probe into price fixing and bid rigging. The companies have agreed to pay more than $2 billion in criminal fines. Twenty-eight people have been charged. According to a one-count felony charge in federal court in Toledo, Ohio, Bridgestone participated in allocating sales, rigging bids and raising prices of automotive anti-vibration rubber parts sold to car manufacturers in America and elsewhere. Bridgestone sold the parts to Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., Suzuki Motor Corp. and Isuzu Motors Ltd.

Google mum on acquisition numbers

Google is becoming more secretive about its acquisitions as the Internet company hunts for promising innovations and engineering talent to help shape the future of technology. The subtle change surfaced this week in Google's 2013 annual report. Google Inc. didn't quantify the total number of deals that it closed last year in the regulatory filing, marking the first time that the Mountain View, Calif., company has withheld that detail since going public in 2004. Instead of specifying the total number of acquisitions during 2013, Google said only that it spent a combined $489 million on all deals besides its purchase of online mapping service Waze. The Waze deal was so large that government regulations prompted Google to break out the $969 million price paid for that acquisition.

Facebook privacy outcry not settled

Facebook may have considered the matter settled, but a group of consumer and children's advocates are renewing their legal battle over teenagers' privacy on the world's largest online social network. At issue is a 2011 class action lawsuit over Facebook's use of people's images in advertisements known as “sponsored stories.” This allowed companies to pay to retransmit users' activities to their friends' pages. If someone clicked the “like” button for a brand, the click could show up as a “sponsored story” on friends' pages. A federal court approved a settlement last August. But the nonprofit Public Citizen and six parents of teenagers on Thursday filed a legal brief in a federal appeals court in California saying the proposed settlement should be rejected.

J.C. Penney replaces CFO

J.C. Penney has replaced its chief financial officer, the latest move by the struggling department store operator to improve its results. Chief Financial Officer Ken Hannah, 45, is leaving the company and will be replaced by Ed Record, 45, who was chief operating officer at department store chain Stage Stores. The move is effective March 24. The company did not give a reason for his departure.

— Staff and wire reports

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