WALL STREET

Sharp drop in banks weighs on US stocks

NEW YORK (AP) — A sharp drop in bank stocks has overshadowed gains elsewhere in midday trading on Wall Street.

Several major banks reported profits that beat forecasts, partly due to the new tax law and higher interest rates, but their stocks fell anyway because of concerns investors saw nestled in their financial reports.

Wells Fargo fell 2.8 percent and JPMorgan Chase lost 2.2 percent. Regional bank PNC Financial lost 3.7 percent.

Energy stocks rose along with the price of oil. Marathon Oil jumped 3.3 percent.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.83 percent.

EARNS-WELLS FARGO

Wells Fargo acknowledges federal settlement offer of $1 billion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Wells Fargo is acknowledging that Federal regulators have offered to resolve a host of investigations into the consumer banking giant for $1 billion. The disclosure comes as Wells reports a 6 percent increase in first-quarter profit.

Wells continues to navigate several investigations related to the opening of fake customer accounts, forcing customers to take unnecessary auto insurance policies, unfairly charging fees tied to mortgage rates and other matters. Well says the potential $1 billion penalty involves the auto insurance and mortgage fee matters.

The bank reported first-quarter earnings of $5.9 billion, or $1.12 per share, better than the 5.46 billion and $1.03 per share for the same period last year.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected earnings of $1.06 per share.

EARNS-JPMORGAN-CHASE

JPMorgan's 1Q profit rises 35 percent, helped by lower taxes

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. says its first-quarter profit jumped 35 percent from a year ago, helped by higher interest rates and a lower tax bill due to the recently passed tax law.

JPMorgan says it earned $8.71 billion in the first quarter, or $2.37 a share, up from $6.45 billion, or $1.65 a share, in the same period a year earlier. The results beat the expectations of analysts, who were looking for JPMorgan to earn $2.28 a share.

The bank benefited from the new Trump tax law. While pretax income rose by $2 billion in the quarter, the company paid $240 million less in taxes compared to a year earlier.

JPMorgan's quarterly revenue was $28.52 billion, up from $25.85 billion

EARNS-CITIGROUP

Citigroup 1Q profit rises 13 percent, helped by taxes, rates

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup says its first-quarter profit rose 13 percent from a year earlier, as the bank benefited from the new tax law and higher interest rates.

Citigroup reported a profit of $4.62 billion, or $1.68 a share, compared with a profit of $4.1 billion, or $1.35 per share, in the same period a year earlier. The results beat analysts' forecasts for earnings of $1.61 a share, according to FactSet.

Like its competitor JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup benefited this quarter from the tax law passed late last year. While revenues were up modestly in Citi's overall business, the amount of money it paid in taxes fell 23 percent from a year earlier.

Total revenues at Citi were $18.87 billion, compared with $18.37 billion a year earlier.

JOB OPENINGS

US job openings decline in February from record level

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses posted fewer open jobs in February than the previous month when openings reached a record level, though layoffs fell.

The Labor Department said Friday that openings fell 2.8 percent to 6.05 million, down from 6.23 million in January, the most on record dating back to 2001. Layoffs dropped a steep 7.7 percent, to 1.65 million.

The figures suggest a healthy job market tilting in favor of job seekers. There are nearly as many job openings as there are unemployed people. Businesses have complained they can't fill jobs, and many are feeling pressure to raise pay to attract and keep workers.

There are now just 1.08 unemployed people, on average, for every available job. When the Great Recession ended, there were 6.7 people out of work for every opening.

EXXON MOBIL-CLIMATE

Court rules Exxon must provide documents in climate probe

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts' highest court has ruled that Exxon Mobil must hand over documents related to a state investigation into whether the company misled the public about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change.

The Supreme Judicial Court sided Friday with Attorney General Maura Healey, who's trying to determine whether Exxon Mobil concealed information it knew about climate change from consumers and investors.

The court rejected Exxon Mobil's argument that the attorney general should be disqualified from the investigation because of comments Exxon says show bias against the company.

The high court's decision upholds a lower court ruling against the Irving, Texas-based oil and gas giant.

An Exxon spokesman said it is evaluating the court's ruling and considering its next steps.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is conducting a similar probe.

DELTA-NRA-ENDORSEMENT

NRA endorses Georgia politician who led fight against Delta

ATLANTA (AP) — The National Rifle Association has endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the Georgia governor's race, two months after Cagle publicly vowed to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting business ties with the NRA.

In a news release Thursday, the NRA said Cagle had "never wavered" from his controversial stance at a time when numerous companies, including Delta, stopped offering discounts to NRA members in the wake of the school massacre in February in Parkland, Florida.

Cagle is the leading fundraiser among seven Republicans running in the May 22 GOP primary.

Cagle, who oversees the state Senate, tweeted in February that he would "kill" tax cuts for Delta unless the Atlanta-based airline reversed course. Days later, senators stripped a lucrative fuel tax exemption from a wider tax proposal.

RUSSIA-US

Russia threatens to freeze cooperation with US

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian lawmakers have submitted a wide-ranging bill that could freeze crucial exports to the United States.

The bill, which was drafted by leading lawmakers at the State Duma in response to the new round of U.S. sanctions announced last week, proposes a wide range of restrictions for U.S. businesses in Russia and for cooperation with the U.S. Among them is a proposal to ban or restrict titanium exports that are crucial for U.S. aircraft maker Boeing.

Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin told Russian news agencies that the bill could be put up for vote next week.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Friday that the Kremlin has yet to see the bill and come up with its decision on it.

EUROPE-FACEBOOK

EU wants Facebook's Zuckerberg to testify over data scandal

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify at the legislature of the 28-nation bloc about the widening data privacy scandal at his company.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova had a phone exchange with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and said on Friday that Zuckerberg should act on the Parliament's invitation to come explain the situation.

Last week, Facebook acknowledged that up to 2.7 million people in the EU may have been victim of improper data sharing involving political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

On Friday, Jourova said that Facebook was "working on an audit of other possibly dangerous apps now."

Zuckerberg this week testified before the U.S. Congress about the scandal.

VOLKSWAGEN

New Volkswagen CEO: We must change faster

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen's new CEO says the automaker must "significantly step up the pace" as it pushes ahead with electric and self-driving vehicle technology and offers transportation as a digitally driven service.

Herbert Diess said Friday that a newly announced management structure bundling the company's dozen brands in just three divisions would mean faster decisions as the company keeps up with sweeping change in how people use cars.

The 59-year-old Diess was named on Thursday as the company's new CEO, replacing Matthias Mueller.

As CEO, Diess will also be responsible for the company's mass market brands Volkswagen, SEAT and Skoda, as well as digital services and vehicle software. Luxury group Audi will be placed in a separate premium division and high-end brands Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini in a super-premium group.