Stocks close out mostly higher after weak start

NEW YORK - For much of Wednesday, the U.S. stock market appeared to be headed for its third decline in three days. By late afternoon, the market began to pare its losses as investors bought up oil refiners, mining companies and technology stocks.

The S&P 500 index added 0.57 to close at 1,868.20. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 11.17 to 16,340.08. The Nasdaq gained 16.14 to 4,323.33.

The major U.S. stock indexes are still down for the week. Investors have been worried about a sharp drop in China's exports in February, raising concerns that the world's second-largest economy is slowing.

Average Wall St. bonus tops $164K, NY reports

ALBANY, N.Y. - The average bonus paid to securities industry employees in New York City grew 15 percent last year to more than $164,000, the largest average Wall St. bonus since the 2008 financial crisis and the third highest on record, New York's comptroller said Wednesday.

The industry has been profitable for five consecutive years, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said. It had 165,200 workers in New York City as of December, or 12.6 percent fewer than before the crisis.

Pfizer trades are halted briefly for patent news

TRENTON, N.J. - A federal court on Wednesday invalidated the key patent for one of Pfizer's most lucrative medicines, potentially opening the door for cheaper generic versions 18 months sooner than expected.

Trading in Pfizer shares was halted before the release of the news about Celebrex. It resumed 20 minutes alter.

Pfizer, still trying to make up for billions lost to generic versions of Lipitor, would lose more if the decision on the Celebrex patent stands. Celebrex brought in $2.9 billion in sales last year. It's widely for arthritis and acute pain.

Airlines lower forecast for record 2014 profit

GENEVA - The global airlines industry still expects a record profit for 2014, just not quite as high as expected, the International Air Transport Association said Wednesday, citing the impact of rising jet fuel prices.

The group, which represents 240 airlines, or 84 percent of total air traffic, says the profit this year is expected to be $18.7 billion, down from the $19.7 billion it forecast in December, as fuel prices have been higher than expected since then.

Fuel isn't the only challenge. Venezuela's decision to block airlines from taking profits out of the country, the Ukrainian crisis and a vanished Malaysian jetliner are adding uncertainty to the outlook, said Tony Tyler, CEO of the association.

Eastman Kodak names Clarke as its new CEO

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Eastman Kodak has tapped Orbitz chairman Jeffrey Clarke as CEO, taking over from Antonio Perez. The photography and film pioneer, which emerged from bankruptcy in September, said Wednesday that Perez will remain as special adviser to its board. Perez, 68, had served as CEO since 2005.

Clarke, 52, will continue as chairman of online travel company Orbitz.

GM is offering loaners, cash for recalled autos

DETROIT - General Motors is offering free loaner cars and $500 toward a new GM vehicle to more than a million owners of compact cars that are being recalled for a deadly ignition switch defect.

But the owners have to ask in order to get the benefits.

The offers, disclosed Wednesday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website, are effective immediately. Owners will be able to use the loaner cars until parts arrive at dealerships to replace the faulty switches. They are expected around April 7, GM said.

The $500 cash allowance offer runs through April 30.

Wire reports