Banks, China Spark New Stock Gains

The stock market keeps on humming along. China's trade numbers and new stress-test results from U.S. banks are the latest factors. The most important benchmark for 401(k) plans and investors - the S&P 500 index - is now close to a record high. Financial stocks led the charge higher Thursday after the Federal Reserve released its latest findings on how big banks would hold up in a deep recession. The results were mostly positive. The Fed will announce next week whether it will approve the banks' plans to issue dividends or repurchase shares. Stress tests have become a fact of life for the banking industry since the near-meltdown during the 2008 financial crisis.

The big focus for investors today is the Labor Department's monthly jobs report. The most important finding will be the number of new jobs added by employers. The employment firm CareerBuilder says job postings at its site are up more than 20 percent compared with a year ago. "We continue to see improvements in the job market," says executive Michael Irwin. The gains are in many industries. "We're seeing it in business services, we're seeing marketing, we're seeing all different types of admin positions coming back and those were the first to go" when the economy tanked in 2008, he adds.

More signs of improvement for the Chinese economy. China's exports jumped nearly 22 percent in February, beating economists' forecasts by a wide margin. The official report gave evidence of strong demand for Chinese-made goods in the global marketplace. Japan's economy did better than thought in the last quarter of 2012, eking out a slight expansion instead of shrinking. The government today upgraded its annual growth number for the fourth quarter to 0.2 percent, suggesting the world's No. 3 economy is emerging from recession.

Many people love listening to Pandora Radio, but when they do, the Internet firm loses more money because of higher music royalty costs. Pandora's longtime CEO is stepping down. Joseph Kennedy's resignation came as Pandora reported another big loss, $14.6 million for the latest quarter. That's compared with a loss of $8.2 million in the same quarter of the prior year. Pandora says its total listener hours rose 53 percent in the same period.

The latest car recall is a weird one. Some Subarus might start their engines without drivers knowing about it. USA Today reports "Subaru is recalling 47,419 certain 2010 to 2013 model-year vehicles because a key fob with a remote starter built into it can go wacky if it is dropped." That can cause a malfunction that could result in the fob remotely turning on the car's engine, and turning it off again, when owners aren't even aware of it, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "The process can keep repeating itself, all with the owner kept in the dark about it," says USA Today.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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