___

US stocks end sharply higher after Chinese market surges

Investors were in a buying mood again on Thursday, driving U.S. stocks higher for the second straight day as they took advantage of this month's sell-off.

The rally came a day after the stock market delivered its biggest gain in almost four years, ending a steep six-day slump that was triggered by concerns about the health of the Chinese economy.

Energy stocks surged as the price of U.S. oil jumped more than 10 percent, closing back above $40 a barrel.

Investors were encouraged by a big gain in the Chinese stock market as the nation's main index logged its biggest gain in eight weeks. They also welcomed a report indicating that the U.S. economy expanded at a much faster pace than previously estimated in the second quarter.

___

The US economy's second quarter went from solid to stellar

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy staged a far bigger rebound last quarter than first thought, outpacing the rest of the developed world and bolstering confidence that it will remain sturdy in coming months despite global headwinds.

The economy as measured by gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 3.7 percent in the April-June quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. That's more than a percentage point greater than the initial 2.3 percent estimate and a sharp upgrade from the anemic 0.6 percent advance during the January-March quarter.

___

Twitter tries to lure in users as it searches for CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter's most urgent task is naming a new CEO. But the most formidable one is convincing more people that its service is essential, easy to use and not just meant for celebrities, 16-year-olds and news junkies.

To help with the latter, there are big promotions, such as last year's World Cup push and this year's expanded content and advertising deal with the NFL to help broaden its audience.

There are also smaller tweaks designed to help people find new features or take advantage of tools they might not have been aware of.

___

Review: New phones, tablets keep Samsung at Android helm

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung's new smartphones and tablets might not offer enough to entice current iPhone and iPad users to switch, but they keep Samsung at the head of the class among Android gadget makers.

The new Galaxy devices come weeks before comparable updates from Apple are expected. In a sense, if Samsung can't beat the competition in sales, it can at least beat it to store shelves.

Samsung has been facing competition not just from Apple but also from Android manufacturers such as Motorola and Xiaomi, which offer good-enough features while keeping prices low. Consumers will have to decide whether the premium features in the latest Samsung devices will be worth the premium price tags.

___

A look at Macy's outlet stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Macy's has an answer to T.J. Maxx and other stores that sell deeply discounted designer brands.

The department store chain, which is set to open its previously announced "Macy's Backstage" discount stores this fall in the New York City area, gave The Associated Press an early look at one of its new outlet stores.

The store, which is opening next week in Elmhurst, Queens, is about the same size as a T.J. Maxx and offers Calvin Klein, Sunglass Hut and many of the other designer brands that shoppers come to expect at Macy's department stores.

___

Applications for US jobless aid drop to very low 271,000

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fewer people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, evidence that employers remain confident in the economy and are laying off few workers.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 271,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, ticked up 1,000 to 272,500.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs and are at historically low levels, suggesting businesses are holding onto their staffs. Earlier this month, the four-week average stood at 266,000, the lowest since April 15, 2000.

___

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage drops to 3.84 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates dropped this week to their lowest levels since May, in a week marked by turmoil in global markets that was stoked by economic developments in China.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.84 percent from 3.93 percent a week earlier. The benchmark rate hasn't been that low since May 21.

The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages declined this week to 3.06 percent from 3.15 percent.

___

FDA lays out proposal for naming lower-cost biotech drugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration released its proposal Thursday for naming lower-cost biotech drugs, a critical step in creating a market for the new class of medicines.

These quasi-generic biotech drugs have the potential to save the U.S. health care system billions of dollars in costs. But representatives for the generic drug industry warned that the FDA's proposal could curb those savings by making the drugs more difficult to prescribe.

___

Company: Settlement reached in lawsuit over Gulf oil leak

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans energy company said Thursday it has reached a settlement agreement with environmental groups in a lawsuit stemming from the company's failed efforts to stop a decade-old, slow-motion oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A federal court filing Thursday stated that an agreement had been reached between Taylor Energy Company and the environmental groups. Taylor said in a news release it has agreed under the settlement to make a $300,000 donation to a Louisiana marine research consortium and to fund $100,000 in research on the ecological effects of small, long term leaks in the Gulf.

___

Looking to future, more NCAA athletes seek own trademarks

BOSTON (AP) — Like their counterparts in the pros, more college football stars are starting to snatch up trademark rights to their names, nicknames and fan slogans.

The NCAA generally forbids its players from cashing in on their athletic success, but by gaining legal ownership of phrases tied to their personal brands, players can pave the way for lucrative licensing deals in the future and can prevent others from exploiting their names.

___

Ruling could ease way for unionizing at fast-food chains

NEW YORK (AP) — It could be easier for unions to bargain for better pay and working conditions on behalf of millions of workers at McDonald's, Burger King and other fast-food chains after a National Labor Relations Board ruling on Thursday.

The ruling, which came from a case involving a waste management company and its staffing company, refines the board's standard for determining when parties can be identified as employers.

The ruling could have broader implications for unions that have struggled to organize workers at many fast-food restaurants, which often are owned by big companies but run by franchisees.

___

Dole Food CEO, former top exec ordered to pay $148M

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge on Thursday ordered 92-year-old Dole Food CEO David Murdock and a former top lieutenant to pay $148 million in damages for misleading directors and shareholders in a deal that took the company private in 2013.

The judge on Thursday said the billionaire businessman, along with former Dole president and chief operating officer C. Michael Carter, breached their fiduciary duties of loyalty in structuring a $1.2 billion cash buyout that left the fruit-and-vegetable giant in Murdock's hands.

___

New estimate: Apple shipped 3.6 million watches last quarter

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A new report estimates Apple shipped 3.6 million watches in the last quarter — more than some analysts have estimated and enough to change the competitive landscape for fitness bands and other wearable gadgets.

Apple shipped enough units of its new smartwatch to nearly overtake market leader FitBit in the last quarter, according to analysts at International Data Corp. Their report warns that traditional fitness bands may be losing popularity to smartwatches and other devices that offer more features.

___

By The Associated Press=

The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 369.26 points, or 2.3 percent, to 16,654.77. The index has recouped almost 1,000 points in the last two days. That's more than half of its losses during a sharp six-day slump. The S&P 500 index gained 47.15 points, or 2.4 percent, to 1,987.66. The Nasdaq composite rose 115.17 points, or 2.5 percent, to 4,812.71.

U.S. oil rose $3.96, or 10.3 percent, to $42.56 a barrel. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils imported by U.S. refineries, rose $4.42, or 10.3 percent, to $47.56 in London. Wholesale gasoline rose 10.19 cents to $1.435 a gallon. Heating oil gained 11.51 cents to $1.496 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5.5 cents to $2.638 per 1,000 cubic feet.