WASHINGTON -

A Pentagon official signaled on Wednesday that the Army could lay off as many as 24,000 enlisted personnel and up to 5,000 officers within five years to meet a projected reduction in the force driven by budget cuts and the winding down of two wars.

Pressed on the possibility of involuntary terminations, Thomas Lamont, an assistant secretary of the Army, told a Senate Armed Services panel that layoffs were possible as the Army shrinks from a peak of 570,000 to 490,000.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in announcing the Pentagon budget earlier this year, also said that the Marines would drop by 20,000, to 182,000. The military is facing nearly a half-trillion-dollar cut in projected spending over 10 years based on the budget agreement reached by President Obama and congressional Republicans last summer.

NEW YORK - The Nasdaq composite index shot 2 percent higher Wednesday, powered by a surge in Apple. The iPhone maker's stock climbed $50 after the company once again blew past Wall Street's profit forecasts.

With Apple's help, the technology-focused Nasdaq posted its best day this year.

Apple, the biggest component of the index by far, climbed 8.9 percent after reporting that its earnings doubled in the first three months of the year. The company sold 35 million iPhones, twice as many as in the same quarter a year ago.

The surge made back about half of what Apple's stock lost in the two weeks before its earnings announcement late Tuesday. One reason for the slump was an analyst's suggestion that Apple could not keep up the momentum in iPhone sales.

Apple jumped nearly $50 to $610 on Wednesday. The gain helped power the Nasdaq up 68.03 points to 3,029.63. Apple makes up 12 percent of the Nasdaq.

The Dow gained 89.16 points to close at 13,090.72, a 0.7 percent increase. The S&P 500 index rose 18.72 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,390.69. Apple accounts for 4 percent of the S&P 500.

HARTFORD, CONN. - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy quietly signed a law Wednesday that ends the state's death penalty for future crimes, making Connecticut the 17th state to abolish capital punishment.

The Democrat signed the bill behind closed doors, without fanfare. An aide said that Malloy was surrounded by lawmakers, clergy and family members of murder victims. While he called it "an historic moment," Malloy said in a written statement that it was a moment "for sober reflection, not celebration."

The bill, which became effective immediately, was signed on the same day that a new Quinnipiac University poll showed that 62 percent of registered voters in Connecticut still favor the death penalty for those convicted of murder. The same survey found that 47 percent of voters disapprove of Malloy's handling of the issue, while 33 percent approve.

PATERSON, N.J. - A New Jersey police officer sent a 12-year-old girl explicit photos of himself in uniform and tried to set up a sexual encounter with her, days after meeting the girl while assisting her family in an unrelated police matter, authorities said Wednesday.

Woodland Park Police Officer Steven Vigorito Jr. pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges ranging from attempted aggravated sexual assault to luring and enticing a child. He was being held on $250,000 bail following his arrest while on duty Tuesday night.

Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes said the girl's mother complained to the police department on Monday that the officer had made inappropriate comments to her daughter, had given her his cellphone number and had asked her to text him. Detectives posed as the girl and started exchanging texts with Vigorito.

The texts became increasingly explicit over the course of several days, prosecutors said. Vigorito eventually texted the girl photographs in which he was exposing himself while wearing his police uniform and arranged to meet her for a sexual encounter, prosecutors alleged.

- Associated Press