Stocks rise on media reports that central banks may act

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks jumped Thursday after media reports signaled possible central-bank action and economic data added to the case for further moves by the Federal Reserve to bolster growth.

Stock indexes hit session highs after Reuters cited officials from the Group of 20 major economic nations in reporting central banks from major economies stood ready to provide liquidity if needed after Greek elections.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the Bank of England was ready to activate an emergency-lending program, according to media accounts of the annual Mansion House address.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 155.53 points, or 1.2 percent, to 12,651.91. The S&P 500 index climbed 14.22 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,329.10, with telecommunications and energy leading gains among its 10 sectors. The Nasdaq composite index advanced 17.72 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,836.33.

OPEC oil ministers arrive at agreement on output target

VIENNA – OPEC oil ministers agreed Thursday to keep their production target steady, in a compromise meant to defuse rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia and to send a soothing message to economically troubled consuming nations.

Oil prices have fallen more than 20 percent over the past two months, and a statement from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries citied “downside risks facing the global economy” and ample stocks of crude as being responsible for the trend.

While agreeing to hold the output target steady, however, the statement suggested that OPEC ministers were ready to come together on short notice if prices fell to levels dictating a production cutback.

OPEC accounts for about a third of world crude production and its decision Thursday corresponded with its professed goal of taking volatility out of global oil markets. With the economies of Europe and the United States feeble and even China seeing a slowdown, keeping production targets steady at a time of falling prices was meant to reassure consuming nations that they do not need to fear the added burden of more pricey energy.

R.I. Department of Labor suspends Schilling probe

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training has suspended its investigation into claims of unpaid wages at former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s video game company.

Department spokeswoman Laura Hart said Thursday the probe was suspended because 38 Studios has filed for bankruptcy protection. The company listed owing at least $2.5 million to employees in Rhode Island and Maryland in its bankruptcy filing.

38 Studios laid off its work force last month after it was late making a $1.1 million payment to the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. The state was investigating whether 38 Studios stopped paying workers three weeks before the layoffs.

38 Studios was lured to Rhode Island from Massachusetts in 2010 by a $75 million loan guarantee from the state.

— From news service reports