SCANA added to Standard & Poor's 500 index

COLUMBIA -- Columbia-based SCANA has been added to the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, a widely accepted benchmark of the stock market.

SCANA, a Fortune 500 company, replaces Merrill Lynch, which was one of three companies dropped from the highly regarded S&P stock list.

"It is very prestigious and an honor to be included in that group of companies," SCANA spokeswoman Roxanne Argo said Wednesday. "It's a good indicator that SCANA is considered to be financially sound."

Investors welcomed the news Wednesday as SCANA's shares rose $1.47 to $35.45 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The S&P 500 includes 500 blue chip, large capitalized stocks, representing about "75 percent of the total U.S. equities market," according to the company's Web site.

For a company to be added to the S&P 500, it must have a market capitalization of at least $4 billion.

SCANA is a $10 billion energy-based holding company that sells electricity and natural gas through its subsidiaries.