Retail Sales, Stimulus News Help Stocks

Investors Wednesday also weighed reports that Yahoo! and News Corp. are in talks on a possible alliance

Stocks finished sharply higher Wednesday after stronger-than-expected retail sales in January helped ease the widespread fears of a recession. Sentiment was also lifted by President Bush’s signing of the U.S. economic stimulus package, some favorable earnings reports, and late-session reports that Yahoo! (YHOO) is discussing a possible partnership with News Corp. (NWS).

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