NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are closing higher following strong earnings results and deal news from big U.S. companies. The gains pushed the Dow Jones industrial average to its second record high close this month. The Dow rose 77 ½ points to 17,138, beating the record high close it set on July 3. The S&P 500 index rose eight points to 1,981. The Nasdaq rose 9 ½ points to 4,425.
- Oil prices are up today on a large drain in U.S. oil inventories and a slight improvement in economic growth in China. Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery rose $1.24 to close at $101.20 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, fell 17 cents to $105.85 on the ICE exchange in London on the last day for the August contract.
- General Motors is the first big automaker to support legislation barring rental-car companies from renting or selling vehicles subject to a recall. GM's support was announced today by Sen. Charles Schumer, who authored the bill. Schumer says GM endorsed the bill after language was inserted clarifying that automakers wouldn't face liability when they repaired rental cars.
- U.S. officials say the Obama administration is levying deeper sanctions on Russia. Washington believes Moscow is backing the insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions are expected to target key areas of Russia's economy, including the defense industry. But officials say the penalties stop short of fully cutting off sectors of the Russian economy.
- European Union leaders are ordering tougher sanctions against Russia because of its actions in Ukraine, asking the European Investment Bank to sign no new financing agreements with Moscow. The leaders also agreed to act together to suspend financing of the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development operations in Russia.