Business Highlights: Profits at big banks, retail sales


Profits at big US banks show few signs of industry distress

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s largest banks appear to be weathering the current turmoil in their industry just fine. Despite a pair of historical bank failures last month which put the nation’s banking industry into crisis mode, the nation’s biggest banks posted strong profits last quarter, helped by higher interest rates and a U.S. economy that keeps adding jobs and growing even as the Federal Reserve attempts to curb inflation. JPMorgan Chase & Co. posted a 52% jump in its first-quarter profits. Wells Fargo, Citigroup and PNC Financial each posted results that topped Wall Street estimates. Investors will now focus on the regional banks that report results next week.


Top Fed official sees need for more interest rate increases

WASHINGTON (AP) — A senior Federal Reserve official said Friday that there has been little progress on inflation for more than a year and that more interest rate hikes are needed to get prices under control. Christopher Waller, a member of the Fed’s governing board, did not specify how many more increases he supports, but said in written remarks that inflation “is still much too high and so my job is not done.” Waller’s comments expressing support for more rate hikes follow a forecast by the Fed’s staff economists, revealed in Fed minutes Wednesday, for a “mild recession” later this year.


US retail sales fall 1% amid high inflation, rising rates

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans cut their spending at retail stores and restaurants in March for the second straight month, a sign consumers are becoming more cautious after a burst of spending in January. Retail sales dropped 1% in March from February, a sharper decline than the 0.2% fall in the previous month. Lower sales of autos, electronics, and at home and garden stores drove the decline. The data isn’t adjusted for inflation, which rose only slightly last month.


Stocks slip as rate worries overshadow big bank profits

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks on Wall Street dipped as worries about interest rates offset an encouraging start to earnings reporting season for big U.S. companies. The S&P 500 lost 0.2% Friday but still squeezed out a fourth weekly gain in the last five. A top Fed official warned more interest rate hikes may be needed to get inflation under control. That hurt Wall Street’s hopes that an end to increases was near, and it added to worries about a possible recession this year. Treasury yields rose. Gains for JPMorgan Chase and other big banks helped to limit Wall Street’s losses following blowout profit reports.


Optum business helps push UnitedHealth past 1Q expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — UnitedHealth beat first-quarter forecasts and hiked its 2023 guidance for the first time, pushed in part by more growth from its Optum care segment. The health care giant said Friday that revenue jumped 25% from its Optum segment, which provides care and manages prescription drug benefits. Operating earnings from that part of the business also grew 19% to $3.7 billion. The Optum business runs clinics, urgent care and surgery centers. UnitedHealth says it served 103 million people in the quarter. Health insurance is still UnitedHealth’s biggest revenue generator. The company collected nearly $73 billion in premiums in the first quarter.


Senegal gas deal drives locals to desperation, prostitution

SAINT-LOUIS, Senegal (AP) — When the gas rig arrived off the coast of Saint-Louis, residents of the seaside Senegalese town found reason to hope. Fishing is Saint-Louis’ lifeblood, but the industry struggled with climate change and COVID-19. Officials promised the drilling would bring thousands of jobs. But locals say it’s brought only a wave of problems, including forcing some women into prostitution. The women spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because their families don’t know what they do. Prostitution is legal in Senegal, but the women don’t want to register, citing cultural shame. They say their husbands can’t fish because of restricted access from the rig. The government and gas companies say people must be patient, and benefits will eventually materialize.


US energy secretary says G7 can lead global emissions cuts

OTARU, Japan (AP) — U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm says the Group of Seven wealthy nations can lead by example in cutting carbon emissions, though faster action is needed to stem global warming. Granholm spoke with The Associated Press while touring the world’s first and only liquefied hydrogen carrier, a ship that showcases Japanese efforts to transform heavily polluting coal into emissions-free hydrogen power. The U.S. is preparing to set up hubs for production and use of hydrogen, though its commercial use is still limited, and Granholm says American plans call for using hydrogen from clean energy. G-7 energy and environment ministers are meeting on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido ahead of a summit next month.


Digital conglomerate buys right-wing app Parler

NEW YORK (AP) — The digital media conglomerate Starboard said Friday it purchased the conservative social media site Parler and will temporarily take down the app as it undergoes a “strategic assessment.” The deal came months after another acquisition agreement with rapper Kanye West, legally known as Ye, collapsed in November. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by either company. Parler caters to right-wing, far right and libertarian voices and fashions itself as a platform with fewer rules in support of free speech. It was booted off the internet in 2021 due to its connections to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Its user base remains small.


‘Quiet luxury’: No flash, no logos, but big-time style

NEW YORK (AP) — They’re the biggest of brands. But with no logos. And that’s the whole point. Call it stealth wealth or quiet luxury. For the rich and those who aspire, logo-free, low-key fashion with large price tags is having a moment among people who can spend big in the face of higher inflation and a volatile economy. And retailers are taking note, along with more designers looking to capture the rich and their wannabes alike. Think Gwyneth Paltrow and her head-to-toe Prada, cashmere sweaters and Celine boots during her recent week in a Utah courtroom.


The S&P 500 lost 8.58 points, or 0.2%, to 4,137.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 143.22 points, or 0.4%, to 33,886.47. The Nasdaq composite dropped 42.81 points, or 0.4% to 12,123.47. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies gave back 15.53 points, or 0.9%, to 1,781.15.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up