Stocks Edged Up on Retail Sales Data

U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday, extending a rally that has taken the Dow to all-time highs, buoyed by surprisingly strong retail sales that suggested the economy is gaining momentum. The Dow added 5.22 points to 14,455.28. The S&P 500 gained 2.04 points to 1,554.52. The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.80 points to 3,245.12.

Retail sales rose 1.1% to a seasonally adjusted $421.4 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. January’s increase was revised up to 0.2% from a 0.1% earlier estimate.

The Federal Reserve is changing its schedule for issuing policy statements, a shift that will give Chairman Ben Bernanke an opportunity to better control the message it sends to financial markets.

The U.S. federal budget deficit jumped in February from January, though it is still running well below last year’s pace. The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the deficit grew in February by $203.5 billion. That followed a small surplus of $2.9 billion in January. And February’s gap was $28 billon smaller than the same month a year ago.

BlackBerry Inc. got a strong late-day boost on Wednesday on news of a large order for its latest smartphones.  The company announced that an unnamed partner has placed an order for 1 million BlackBerry 10 smartphones. Shipments on the order will begin immediately, the company said in a statement.

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook must sit for a deposition in the U.S. government’s lawsuit against the company over alleged price-fixing in the e-book market, a judge ruled on Wednesday.

The architect of Android, the world’s top-selling mobile operating system, Andy Rubin, has decided to step down as Google Inc combines mobile software divisions under one roof, the company said on Wednesday.

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