Stock indexes continue their upward trajectory

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed above 1,800 for the first time as encouraging news from the drug industry pushed stocks higher.

The S&P 500 index rose nine points, or 0.5 percent, to close at 1,804.76 Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 55 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,064.77. The Nasdaq gained 22 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,991.65

Biotechnology company Biogen Idec surged up 33.3 percent on reports that it won market exclusivity for its top-selling multiple sclerosis drug in Europe. The stock rose the most in the S&P 500 index.

Lawmakers urge opening bidding to big airlines too

Four key members of Congress say that all airlines – not just low-fare carriers – should be able to bid on gates and landing rights that American Airlines and US Airways will give up after their merger.

The leaders of the House and Senate transportation committees say they’re worried that unless the big airlines can bid, service between Washington and some smaller cities may be lost.

The U.S. Justice Department settled a lawsuit challenging the merger earlier this month after American and US Airways agreed to give up gates and landing rights at several big airports, notably Washington’s Reagan National Airport. Officials said those assets would go to low-cost airlines because the big airlines had stifled competition.

On Friday, top Democrats and Republicans on the transportation committees released a letter that they sent to Attorney General Eric Holder urging that bidding be open to all airlines. They said that low-cost carriers don’t generally fly to smaller cities, so freezing out the big airlines won’t help consumers in those places.

Fiat poised to dominate in talks to buy Chrysler

Fiat is set to gain the upper hand in negotiations to buy a health-care trust’s holding in Chrysler if the final value for the American carmaker remains around the level currently being discussed.

Bank advisers are considering a valuation of about $10 billion for Chrysler, sources with knowledge of the matter said. That would make the 41.5 percent of Chrysler owned by the United Auto Workers trust worth $4.15 billion, less than what analysts have expected Fiat to pay.

The trust and Fiat – Chrysler’s majority shareholder – are disputing the company’s value as Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer of both carmakers, seeks to buy the UAW’s stake.

The trust is working to determine whether to sell its holding to Fiat directly or press forward with an initial public offering as soon as next month.

– From news service reports