JPMorgan profits disappoint
An uptick in trading and dealmaking lifted JPMorgan Chase & Co’s first-quarter profits out of the funk of late last year, but the recovery fell short of the good times the largest US bank enjoyed a year ago. JPMorgan said first-quarter net income fell 3 percent to US$5.4 billion from US$5.6 billion a year earlier. The results beat Wall Street expectations. Investment banking revenue rebounded from the fourth quarter of last year as fears about the European debt crisis eased, prompting more companies and investors to return to fixed-income and equity markets. JPMorgan also got a boost from improvements in credit quality and loan demand — a trend seen in the performance of Wells Fargo & Co as well. The No. 4 US bank separately reported higher first-quarter profit as mortgage banking improved and it set aside less money for bad loans. “The revenue is what really impressed me,” said Joe Terril, founder and money manager of Terril & Co, referring to a 24 percent jump in JPMorgan’s total revenue from the fourth quarter.
Apple denies conspiracy
Apple Inc said the accusation that it conspired with major book publishers to raise the price of e-books is untrue. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said that, contrary to allegations in lawsuits by the US Justice Department and 15 states, Apple fostered innovation and competition by introducing its iBookstore in 2010. He said customers have benefited from e-books that are more interactive and engaging. The company says its entry into e-books has broken a monopolistic grip on the publishing industry by Internet retailer Amazon.com. The lawsuits say Apple and the publishers cost consumers more than US$100 million in the past two years by adding US$2 or US$3, sometimes as much as US$5, to the price of each ebook.
S&P affirms ‘AAA’ rating
Standard & Poor’s ratings agency on Friday confirmed its top “AAA” long-term credit rating for the UK and maintained a stable outlook for the country, which is not a member of the eurozone. “Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services affirmed its ‘AAA’ long-term and ‘A-1+’ short-term unsolicited sovereign credit ratings on the UK. The outlook remains stable,” it said in a statement. It said that the ratings reflect the UK’s “wealthy and diversified economy, fiscal and monetary policy flexibility, and adaptable product and labor markets.” S&P added that it believes “the UK government maintains a strong commitment to implementing its fiscal mandate, and has the ability and willingness to respond rapidly to economic challenges.”
‘Green’ cars popular in US
Americans are buying record numbers of hybrid and electric cars as gasoline prices climb and new models arrive in showrooms, giving the vehicles their greatest share yet of the US auto market. Consumers bought a record 52,000 gas-electric hybrids and all-electric cars last month, up from 34,000 during the same month last year. The two categories combined made up 3.64 percent of total US sales, their highest monthly market share ever, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank. The previous high was 3.56 percent in July 2009, when the “Cash for Clunkers” program encouraged people to trade in old gas guzzlers for more fuel-efficient cars. While their share of the market remains small, it represents a big leap from the start of the year, when hybrids and electrics made up 2.38 percent of new car sales.