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AP Financial News Summary at 10:13 a.m. EDT

April 18, 2006

Merrill Lynch Earnings Slide in 1Q

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Financial services firm Merrill Lynch & Co. on Tuesday posted sharply lower first-quarter earnings after taking a hefty charge for stock-based compensation, but record revenue from investment activity helped the results beat Wall Street estimates.

Oil Prices Climb to New Intraday High

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LONDON (AP) _ Oil prices hit a new intraday high of $70.88 a barrel Tuesday amid international tension over Iran’s nuclear program and worries about supply disruptions in Nigeria.

Gas Prices Push Up Wholesale Inflation

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ A big jump in gasoline prices pushed inflation at the wholesale level up in March at the fastest pace in three months, as oil prices above $70 a barrel sent consumers a high-octane warning of expensive fuel costs ahead.

Johnson & Johnson 1Q Profit Up 17 Pct.

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) _ Diversified health care products maker Johnson & Johnson Inc. said Tuesday first-quarter profit rose 17 percent because of an acquisition termination fee from Guidant Corp., but sales fell short of Wall Street estimates.

Wells Fargo Profit Rises 9 Percent in 1Q

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Wells Fargo & Co., one of the nation’s biggest banking companies, reported Tuesday that first-quarter profit rose 9 percent, buoyed by growth in deposits and lower loan charge-offs.

China’s Hu to Visit With Microsoft, Boeing

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SEATTLE (AP) _ Chinese President Hu Jintao was opening his U.S. trip by meeting with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and other Seattle business leaders, part of a two-day whirlwind Washington state visit that will also include a stop at Boeing Co.

Stocks Rise in Early Trading

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks rose in early trading Tuesday as investors welcomed a tame inflation report but still worried about the potential consequences of a surge in oil prices to a new intraday high.

Prosecutors Grill Skilling in Enron Trial

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HOUSTON (AP) _ Former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling has portrayed himself as a defender of his scandal-ridden company’s shattered honor, but he acknowledged a private investment he made in an ex-girlfriend’s company may have crossed the ethical line.

Boston Scientific 1Q Profit Dips 7 Percent

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BOSTON (AP) _ Boston Scientific Corp. said Tuesday its first-quarter profit fell 7 percent on reduced sales of its top-selling heart stent heading into this week’s expected completion of the medical device maker’s $27 billion purchase of Guidant Corp.

Mattel 1Q Profit Up on Tax Benefit

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) _ Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toy maker, on Tuesday posted higher first-quarter earnings on tax benefits, but worldwide gross sales of its Barbie dolls fell 8 percent.

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