iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There were mass losses earlier this week? All gains for Wall Street on Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average up 369.26 to finish the session at 16654.77. Its biggest two-day gain since December 2008.
The Nasdaq also jumped 115.17, ending at 4812.71, while the S&P 500 climbed 47.15 to 1987.66.
Crude oil also rose 10 percent for its biggest one-day gain since October 2008.
Although there's hardly a sign of the plunging stock scare earlier this week, the S&P 500 may be headed toward a "Death Cross" according to Business Insider due to the technical damage. This happens when a stock or index's 50-day moving average "falls below its 200-day moving average and is often seen as a reversal in the prevailing long-term trend for a security," said Business Insider.
The second quarter estimate of the U.S. GDP beat expectations expanding at 3.7 percent when an estimate last month by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis had it at a 2.3 percent pace. The BEA believes the reason is because of an increase in exports.
McDonald's and Tyson have cut ties with a Tennessee poultry farm after a video surfaced showing workers stabbing, clubbing, and crushing chickens. The video was released by animal rights group Mercy for Animals and also reveals "disgusting" living conditions of the factory chickens at T&S Farms.
Daniel Aguilar/Getty Images(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) -- The calendar may still say summer but retail giant Walmart is encouraging consumers to get in the Christmas spirit now.
With Labor Day more than a week away, the world's largest retailer is scheduled to launch its holiday season layaway plan four months before Dec. 25.
"Toy Week and the kick-off of our layaway program is about being there for those customers who are starting to think about and plan their holiday shopping -- we know not everybody is there yet, but for those who are, we want to make sure they have everything they need," Walmart said in a statement to ABC News.
Starting Friday, two weeks earlier than it did last season, Walmart will allow customers to pay for nearly 40,000 items in installments. Shoppers will have 90 days to pay for their items. Merchandise will need to cost at least $10 and the total of items under layaway must reach $50, according to the company.
"Retailers want to get customers as soon as possible and Walmart's jumping the gun," said Business Insider's Ashley Lutz. "They're saying, 'Spend all of your money here in August. Then you won't have money to spend in other places."
Customers will also get a sneak peek at the season's top toys before the competition. According to market research company NPD Group, toy sales this year are projected to climb 6.2 percent to nearly $20 billion, thanks in large part to the new "Star Wars" movie due out in December.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is produced by Walt Disney Pictures. Walt Disney is the parent company of ABC News.
Starting Sept. 4, Walmart will stock its shelves with 500 "Star Wars" items, according to the company. It's also hosting 24-hour "Force Friday" events at 2,900 locations. Toys "R" Us also plans to join in the action with its own "Star Wars" midnight events.
In the retailer's case, it's hoping the Force will indeed be with it.
"Customers, fans, collectors and even wookies from across the galaxy are counting on us to bring them the hottest toys at the best prices and we won't let them down," Walmart said.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For the first time ever, one billion people have logged onto Facebook in a single day, meaning 1 in 7 people in the world accessed their profiles, according to the company's co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The milestone moment happened on Monday but was shared on Thursday in a Facebook post on Zuckerberg's wall.
"When we talk about our financials, we use average numbers, but this is different. This was the first time we reached this milestone, and it's just the beginning of connecting the whole world," Zuckerberg wrote.
"I'm so proud of our community for the progress we've made. Our community stands for giving every person a voice, for promoting understanding and for including everyone in the opportunities of our modern world."
Facebook revealed in its last earnings report the social network has 1.49 billion monthly active users.
iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Some of the world’s biggest automakers should have recalled millions of vehicles with keyless ignitions because the cars, which don’t shut off automatically if the driver fails to press the start/stop button, could be a deadly carbon monoxide risk, according to a new lawsuit.
According to the suit, filed in Los Angeles Federal Court on behalf of keyless car drivers Wednesday, there have been at least 13 deaths -- and a number of close calls -- from carbon monoxide poisoning after consumers failed to manually shut off their engines. The suit claims, “Reasonable drivers mistakenly believe that removing the Keyless Fob from the vehicle turns off the engine.”
Keyless cars allow drivers to start their engines without inserting a key into the ignition switch, but instead pressing a start/stop button. To shut off the car, they must manually press the button again.
The lawsuit claims the defendants -- Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Honda, GM, BMW, Volkswagen, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai and Kia -- knew or should have known of these risks. Yet according to the suit, they allegedly sold keyless fobs “without instituting adequate safeguards, warnings, or other safety features,” including a relatively inexpensive auto-off feature that automatically switches the engine off if the car is left unattended.
Some of the cars were equipped with audible alerts, which sounded when drivers exited the vehicle with the engine still on.
The lawsuit claims that, “for years the Automakers have known about the deadly consequences that can result when a driver exits a vehicle with our without the keyless fob and without having depressed the Start/Stop button. Nevertheless, even though an Auto-Off feature can be implemented without significant effort or cost, the Automakers have refused to act.”
Several consumers complained to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration about the lack of the auto-off feature, and in 2007, Ford and General Motors even filed patents to address the issue -- supposedly demonstrating, according to the lawsuit, that automakers (who read one another’s patents) allegedly “recognized the dangerous consequences associated with keyless fobs.”
Though some of the car companies installed auto-off in later models, they allegedly failed to recall the earlier model cars, or provide reasonable auto-off software updates.
While there have been lawsuits brought by victims of carbon monoxide poisoning (or their families), some of which have settled, the lawyers bringing this lawsuit are seeking class action status to represent all owners of the models of cars with keyless entry named in the lawsuit.
The car makers also allegedly failed to include warnings in car manuals or sales brochures and allegedly “continue to conceal” the safety risk from the public at large. Meanwhile, they profited from sales of keyless fobs, which are often part of a costly upgrade package.
Most car companies declined comment to ABC News, but Ford said, "Ford takes the safety of our customers very seriously; the keyless ignition system has proven to be a safe and reliable innovative feature that has been well-received by customers. Ford vehicles equipped with keyless ignition alert drivers when the driver’s door is open and the vehicle’s engine is running.”
Volkswagen said, “Volkswagen Group of America and its brands consider the safety and satisfaction of its consumers and passengers as a top priority. All brands within the Volkswagen Group are engineered to meet or exceed all government regulations.”
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The days of cutting a friend out of an Instagram photo in order to fit into the square format are over.
A huge new update to Instagram means photographs no longer have to be square. The Facebook-owned photo sharing app announced on Thursday it is also adding a rectangular landscape option to better accommodate the types of photos and videos people post to their accounts.
"Square format has been and always will be part of who we are. That said, the visual story you’re trying to tell should always come first, and we want to make it simple and fun for you to share moments just the way you want to," a blog post from Instagram said.
With one tap on the format icon, users will be able to choose the way they want to position their photos before choosing a filter and sharing it with their friends. That means no more unfortunate crops and you can finally capture grand icons such as the Eiffel Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge in all of their glory.
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — Facebook's answer to Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana is a virtual personal assistant called "M" that will be housed inside the company's Messenger app.
The social network wants users to know this one can do a lot more than answering questions and managing a person's calendar. M can actually help people complete tasks that other virtual assistants can't.
While M is artificially intelligent, it is trained and supervised by humans, making the service so smart that Facebook says it can "purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more."
People lucky enough to be testing the service will be able to send a note to M in messenger, just as they would chat to a friend. M can understand queries such as recommending a restaurant and offering to make reservations.
"This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service," David Marcus, vice president of messaging products at Facebook said in a post. "But it's an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what's important in their lives."
Apple(NEW YORK) -- It's official: After plenty of speculation, Apple Thursday confirmed it will hold an event Sept. 9 in San Francisco where it is widely expected the company will show off an iPhone 6S.
The event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. PT and will be held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium.
Apple is remaining tight-lipped about the agenda for the event and in a characteristically coy invitation teased, "Hey Siri, give us a hint."
Among the biggest updates expected for the possible new iPhone release are an even sharper camera, faster processor and force touch technology, allowing users to press parts of the screen the same way they would a button, according to reports.
McDonalds(NEW YORK) -- An animal rights group is calling for action from McDonald's after its investigation found abuses at a Tennessee poultry farm that supplies the fast food chain.
Mercy for Animals has posted an undercover video showing chickens being hit with sticks and having their heads stepped on in overcrowded and filthy conditions before being shipped off to a Tyson Foods facility.
The farm supplies both Tyson and McDonald's.
McDonald's released a statement saying the behavior depicted in the video is completely unacceptable. The company said it supports Tyson Foods' decision to terminate its contract with the farmer and is working with Tyson Foods to further investigate.
Lisa Werner/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Amazon is turning the idea of an app store upside down.
The retailer is taking aim at the Google Play app store with its latest venture called Amazon Underground which claims to offer more than $10,000 worth of Android apps free of charge.
"Many apps that are marked as 'free" turn out to not be completely free. They use in-app payments to charge you for special items or to unlock features or levels," an announcement from Amazon said.
Many popular Android titles including everything from premium services such as PhotoSuite 4 and OfficeSuite Professional 8 are available via Amazon Underground, along with a slew of games that may otherwise have in-app purchases, including Angry Birds Slingshot Stella and Frozen Free Fall.
Amazon said it was able to work out the new model for an app store by reaching a compensation agreement with developers.
"We're paying them a certain amount on a per-minute played basis in exchange for them waiving their normal in-app fees," Amazon explained in a letter to customers. "To be clear, we're the ones picking up those per minute charges so for you it's simply free."
According to documentation on Amazon's website, the retailer will pay $0.0020 in the U.S. for every minute a person uses a developer's app, with aggregate usage time being calculated every day down to the millisecond and then rounding the total payout to the nearest penny.
Want to check it out? Users can download the Amazon Underground app, which will act as their portal to the free bounty of apps.
While free may sound nice, users can still expect to see some advertisements on occasion when launching or resuming the app.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is testing a new personal digital assistant. Its called "M" and it works inside Facebook Messenger.
But unlike its competitors, the new service can complete tasks on your behalf.
"It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more," David Marcus, the vice president of messaging products at Facebook, explains in a Facebook post.
M is currently being tested in San Francisco. A wider roll-out is expected soon.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Amidst privacy concerns and the ubiquity of camera-bearing drones, an ammunition company has created a load aimed at, pun intended, "aerial drone/quad copter training and range shooting systems."
Snake River Shooting Products claims its new Drone Munition, "also generates a discussion on the growing drone market in general," according to the company’s site.
Its website notes, "Drones are now a $50 million industry and growing daily. The Drone Munition brand provides a cost effective solution for self defense as the Federal Government and States scramble to take action. Self defense applies whether it is a person based or machine based threat and is just as important as protecting your family! Our shot shell solutions provide a cost effective way to do just that!"
Incidentally, Snake River explains its new product isn't just for mechanical menaces: "Drone Munition is also a fantastic hunting load for small game, waterfowl, and turkeys!"
While warning about the "drone apocalypse" on one hand, the site also warns it's not exactly legal to hunt the remote control devices.
"Please remember that drones are aircraft and as such, are protected by the federal government. Our products are designed to be used in accordance with the law. Use your common sense, be informed and obey all laws with respect to drones and firearms," it says.
snyferok/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Walmart will cease sales of assault rifles in its stores in the U.S.
The New York Timesreports that the policy change is related to customer demand and not gun politics. The decision, Walmart says, was made before the Wednesday shooting that left two television journalists dead in Virginia, but was widely publicized later in the day.
The Times quotes Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg as saying that the retailer would stop selling modern sporting rifles. Similar weapons have been used in prominent shootings including the 2012 movie theater massacre in Aurora, Colorado.
Walmart will still sell shotguns and other hunting weapons, the Times adds. The restocking will take place in the next two weeks -- in time for the fall season.
JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After six straight days of major losses, Wall Street rebounded in a big way Wednesday, with all three major indices finishing the session up more than 3 percent.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed nearly four percent to 16285.51 -- a gain of 619.07 on the day.
The Nasdaq jumped 191.05, 4.24 percent, to 4697.54, while the S&P 500 climbed 72.9 to 1940.51.
Unlike Tuesday, when the markets fell sharply near the end of the session, Wall Street was able to hold onto its gains through the closing bell Wednesday, erasing all of Tuesday's losses.
Wednesday's gains were bolstered at least in part by positive data on durable goods orders, a recovery for the dollar, and comments from New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley that hinted at pushing off a rate hike that was expected for next month. Early gains were also partially attributed to new stimulus measures from China's central bank.
Courtesy Uber(TUCSON, Ariz.) — Uber's latest move into the world of self-driving cars is taking the ride-hailing service to Arizona.
Partnering with the University of Arizona's College of Optical Science, Uber will focus on safety and mapping technology for driverless vehicles, company officials said. A fleet of automobiles with futuristic looking white contraptions affixed to their roofs will travel the roads in Tucson testing out the mapping technology.
"We’re still in the early days of what’s possible – and I look forward to working with Arizona to make the next step of that journey a reality," Brian McClendon, vice president of advanced technology for Uber said in a statement.
The announcement coincided with an executive order signed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday supporting the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles in Arizona.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has previously expressed a fascination with driverless technology and said at a conference last year that autonomous cars would drive down the cost of hailing a ride since customers would no longer have to pay for the driver, or as Kalanick put it, "the other dude in the car."
The San Francisco-based company has also been testing its self-driving technology working alongside researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images(STOCKHOLM) -- Here's a piece of good news for deep space voyagers.
If you feel you are in a black hole, Stephen Hawking believes all hope is not lost.
The famed cosmologist presented his new theory about black holes at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, on Tuesday. While being sucked into a black hole would spell doom, Hawking said black holes aren't as dark as they seem, allowing some information to escape.
"I propose that the information is stored not in the interior of the black hole as one might expect, but in its boundary, the event horizon," Hawking said, referring to the line beyond which theories suggest even light cannot escape.
Before entering the point of no return in the black hole, information is encoded in a two-dimensional hologram on the event horizon, he said. The stored information is then emitted in quantum fluctuations in "chaotic, useless form," Hawking said, noting that "for all practical purposes the information is lost."
Hawking's latest theory relates to the decades-old quandary of reconciling general relativity, Albert Einstein's groundbreaking framework for explaining gravity and quantum mechanics, which explains the forces of nature on the sub-atomic level.
Hawking also theorized black holes might also be passages to other universes -- but with a caveat. Anyone who enters one wouldn't be able to come back to our universe.
"So although I'm keen on space flight, I'm not going to try that," he joked.