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POSTED February 16, 2012 8:22 p.m.

GM POSTS ITS HIGHEST PROFIT EVER: $7.6 BILLION: DETROIT (AP) — Just two years after it was rescued and reconstituted through bankruptcy and a government bailout, General Motors Co. cruised through 2011 to post the biggest profit in its history.

The 103-year-old company, leaner and smarter under new management, cut costs by taking advantage of its size around the globe. And its new products boosted sales so much that it has reclaimed the title of world's biggest automaker from Toyota.

GM may have a hard time breaking this record in 2012 because it is losing money in Europe and South America, and U.S. sales growth slowed in the last three months of 2011.

But the company's performance in North America and Asia still helped it earn $7.6 billion for the year, beating the record of $6.7 billion set during the truck boom in 1997.

DOW WITHIN 100 OF 13,000 AS STOCKS BARREL HIGHER: NEW YORK (AP) — Investors sent U.S. stocks barreling to their highest levels of the year Thursday, buoyed by slivers of encouraging news about jobs and housing. At least for a day, they overlooked the lack of clarity about Greece's marathon negotiation for a bailout.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 123.13 points to close at 12,904.08, its third triple-digit gain this year. It was the highest close for the Dow since May 19, 2008, four months before the worst of the financial crisis.

As the Dow moved to within sight of 13,000, applause broke out at the closing bell on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

The Standard & Poor's 500 rose 14.81 points to 1,358.04, its highest close in nine and a half months. The Nasdaq composite, which has had an even stronger year than the Dow and S&P and is trading at its highest since 2000, rose 44.02 points to 2,959.85.

The rally was broad, with all but one of the 30 stocks in the Dow, Kraft Foods, closing higher. All 10 industry groups in the S&P were comfortably higher, led by materials stocks, including strong showings from DuPont and Dow Chemical.

General Motors was among the best-performing stocks of the day. Two years after it was almost wiped out, the company turned a record $7.6 billion profit last year, bigger even than when Americans couldn't stop buying trucks and SUVs.

 

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