Today: Stocks up, jury finds Goldman Sachs trader liable, more drama in Dell takeover bid
The Lead: Bulls running on Wall Street, mortgage fraud case and more
The Standard & Poor's 500 index leaped over the 1,700 milestone for the first time while other key indexes also broke records on Thursday.
The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 128.48 points, or 0.8 percent, to 15,628.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 21.14 points, up 1.3 percent, to 1,706.87, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index gained 49.37 points, up 1.4 percent, closing at 3,675.74.
The gains appeared to be the result of upbeat news including the Fed's promise to maintain its "easy money" policies, a positive report on U.S. manufacturing and the weekly Department of Labor report that showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, the fewest since January 2008.
The S&P 500's benchmark high came just 90 days after the index hit 1,600, making it its third-fastest 100-point climb ever, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. The fastest advance came in March 1998 when it rallied from 1,000 to 1,100 in 50 days. Thursday's strong economic data pushed bond prices down, which caused the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to climb to 2.72 percent from 2.59 percent Wednesday.
-- A former Goldman Sachs trader who earned the nickname "Fabulous Fab" was found liable Thursday in a fraud case brought by Securities and Exchange regulators following the 2007 mortgage crisis that helped push the country into recession.
SEC lawyers called Fabrice Tourre -- a French-born Stanford graduate -- the face of "Wall Street greed" while Tourre's attorneys portrayed him as a scapegoat in a downturn caused by larger economic forces.
Tourre, 34, was found liable in six of seven SEC fraud claims. He faces potential fines and a possible ban from the financial industry.
The SEC had accused Tourre of misleading institutional investors about subprime mortgage securities that he knew were doomed to fail, setting the stage for a valued Goldman hedge fund client, Paulson & Co., to secretly bet against the investment.
The maneuver ended up making $1 billion for the hedge fund and its wealthy president, John A. Paulson, and millions of dollars in fees for Goldman. The SEC also sought to show that it helped earn Tourre a bonus that boosted his salary to $1.7 million in 2007.
On the witness stand, the SEC lawyers confronted Tourre with a January 2007 email it said deliberately misled another institutional investor about Paulson's short position in the investment called Abacus 2007-AC1. Tourre's attorney, John Coffey, urged jurors to put the investment's failure in perspective, noting that all similarly packaged securities "went off the cliff as well" after 2007.
The civil case had been called the most significant legal action related to the mortgage securities meltdown, but it lacked the drama and high stakes of white-collar criminal cases. Much of the testimony was devoted to the intricacies of synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs -- a complex type of investment central to the case.
Goldman settled with the SEC in 2010 by paying a $550 million fine without admitting or denying wrongdoing. Tourre left the firm in 2012.
-- Dell investor Carl Icahn filed suit against Dell and its board on Thursday in Delaware in another effort to avert a $24.4 billion buyout by CEO Michael Dell in place of Icahn's own takeover offer.
Icahn filed suit in the Court of Chancery of Delaware to block rule changes that Michael Dell has proposed ahead of a shareholder vote set for Friday. Icahn and his affiliates want to stop Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake from voting any Dell shares acquired since Feb. 5, when his buyout bid was announced, and to ensure the company does not change any shareholder voting requirements.
Icahn, who has an 8.7 percent stake in Dell, and Southeastern Asset Management want Dell to set a date for the annual shareholder meeting so Icahn can put up his own slate of directors for the company.
Michael Dell has said Dell's hopes for a turnaround can be best done away from the scrutiny of public investors as the company continues to see a drop in sales of personal computers.
Dell's special board committee rejected new voting terms in a revised bid by Michael Dell and Silver Lake, which raised their offer price last week by 10 cents to $13.75 per share on the condition the voting rules were changed.
The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 16.29, or 1.27 percent, to 1,302.74
Check in weekday afternoons for the 60-Second Business Break, a summary of news from Mercury News staff writers, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News and other wire services. Contact Dan Nakaso at 408 271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.