Update on the latest business



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WALL STREET

Earnings drop at JPMorgan drags bank stocks lower

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank stocks are dragging the market down today after a weak earnings report from JPMorgan Chase, while technology and biotech stocks are continuing their fall too.

The Dow was down more than 100 points in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 was off about 10 points and the Nasdaq composite down nearly 25. The Nasdaq had its worst day since 2011 yesterday and is headed for its third weekly loss in a row.

GAS DRILLING-EARTHQUAKES

Ohio regulators link seismic activity to fracking

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — State geologists in Ohio believe they have for the first time linked earthquake activity in the Utica shale to hydraulic fracturing, and the state says it is issuing new permit conditions in seismic-sensitive areas.

State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers told The Associated Press on Friday that a state investigation of five small tremors in the Youngstown area last month has found a probable link.

He said Ohio is setting new permitting conditions in earthquake-sensitive areas and has halted drilling indefinitely at the site of the March quakes.

A seismologist with the U.S. Department of Interior says it's the first time a link has been drawn between seismic activity and fracking taking place in the Marcellus-Utica shale across the northeastern United States.

GENERAL MOTORS-STOCK

GM stock hits 10-month low, under IPO price

DETROIT (AP) — Shares of General Motors Co. fell to a 10-month low Friday as the company's widening recall crisis put a coveted upgrade of its credit rating in doubt.

Standard & Poor's said Thursday that it might put off a potential upgrade of GM's debt to investment grade status until next year. S&P issued a statement after the automaker boosted the estimated costs of its recently announced recalls to $1.3 billion.

GM stock hit $32.51 in morning trading, a low since June, before recovering to $32.70 at midday. June was also the last time the stock dropped below GM's $33 initial public offering price.

The stock has dropped almost 6 percent since Feb. 13, when GM began a series of recalls, including 2.6 million small cars for a deadly ignition switch problem.

EARNINGS

JPMorgan's first-quarter profit falls; Wells Fargo profits surge

NEW YORK (AP) — Earnings reports from two big banks tell different stories in today. JPMorgan Chase says its first-quarter earnings fell, while Wells Fargo's profit soared.

JP Morgan made $4.8 billion in the first quarter, after stripping out payments to preferred stockholders. That was down 20 percent from the same period a year earlier and falls short of analysts' estimate.

A decline in its investment banking and mortgage lending hurt JPMorgan's numbers.

Wells Fargo continued to trim its losses on soured loans in the first quarter and saw its profits surge 14 percent. On a per-share basis, earnings were $1.05, well above Wall Street forecasts.

Wells Fargo's gain comes despite a drop in its mortgage business. Wells Fargo controls about a third of the U.S. mortgage market and a rise in rates late last year has hurt. The bank funded $36 billion worth of mortgages in the first quarter, just a third of what it did last year.

PRODUCER PRICES

US producer prices rise 0.5 percent in March

WASHINGTON (AP) — The prices companies receive for their goods and services jumped in March led by gains for food, clothing, jewelry and chemicals.

The Labor Department says the producer price index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.5 percent in March.

Overall inflation remains relatively tame. Producer prices increased 1.4 percent during the past 12 months. That's below the 2 percent target set by the Federal Reserve.

Wholesale food prices rose last month, while the costs charged for gasoline and electric power fell. Excluding the volatile categories of food, energy and retailer and wholesaler profit margins, core prices ticked up 0.3 percent.

Businesses have struggled to raise prices because of historically high levels of unemployment and meager wage growth, making it harder for consumers to pay more.

DETROIT BANKRUPTCY

Judge approves Detroit swaps deal with 2 banks

DETROIT (AP) — A federal judge has approved bankrupt Detroit's plan to settle a bad multi-million dollar pension debt deal with two banks.

Judge Steven Rhodes made his decision Friday morning on the city's agreement to pay $85 million to UBS and Bank of America.

Rhodes had denied earlier proposals for $220 million and $165 million settlements.

Detroit had pledged casino tax revenue in 2009 as collateral to avoid defaulting on pension debt payments, which allowed the city to get fixed interest rates on pension bonds with the banks. But the deal became too costly when interest rates plunged.

The swaps deal is key to Orr's plan to restructure Detroit's debt. The two banks have said they will support Orr's plan.

UKRAINE-NUCLEAR FUEL

Ukraine, Westinghouse seal nuclear fuel deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — Nuclear technology firm Westinghouse says it has reached a deal with Ukraine to deliver fuel for its reactors through 2020, a move that helps the country reduce its reliance on Russia for energy supplies as it squabbles with Moscow over unpaid gas bills.

Westinghouse said Friday a 2008 contract to supply fuel for Ukraine's nuclear reactors has been extended to help "diversify its supply."

Ukraine's 15 reactors produce about half of its electricity, or twice the share nuclear power has in the U.S.

Ukraine gets most of its nuclear fuel from Russia but the deal will see Westinghouse supplying up to 25 percent "and there's an option to provide more if needed."

SONY-LAPTOP RECALL

Sony warns of battery issue in some Vaio laptops

NEW YORK (AP) — Sony is advising consumers to quit using some of its VAIO laptop computers and unplug them, saying that it's possible that its non-removable battery pack could overheat.

The company says it's in the process of creating a program to repair or replace the computers, or will refund their purchase price.

The packs included in some of Sony's Vaio Fit 11A models, which were released in February, were provided by a third-party supplier. If the packs overheat, it could cause burns to the laptop's housing, Sony said Friday.

The recall affects computers with the product name "SVF11N1XXXX." It's unclear how many laptops are affected.

It plans to make an announcement on the repair program within two weeks.

FORD PICKUPS-INVESTIGATION

US agency closes probe into Ford pickup trucks

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. safety regulators have decided against seeking a recall of Ford F-150 pickup trucks after investigating complaints about EcoBoost engines losing power.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it closed a probe started in May. It covered nearly 360,000 trucks with 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged engines from the 2011 through 2013 model years.

The agency began investigating after getting complaints that the trucks could lose power during hard acceleration.

Tests by Ford and the government traced the problem to condensation in an air cooler. Water could be pulled into the engine, causing cylinders to misfire.

But the tests showed that trucks with the condition would maintain speed and accelerate.

The agency determined that a Ford Motor Co. service bulletin to dealers took care of the problem, so it's not pursuing a recall.

COLDWATER CREEK-BANKRUPTCY

Coldwater Creek files for bankruptcy protection

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — The women's clothing retailer Coldwater Creek has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after failing to find a potential buyer or a source of capital to help fund its turnaround efforts.

The retail chain said it spent the past six months evaluating its options, but that its declining financial liquidity, tough retail conditions and its inability to find other viable options drove it to file for bankruptcy protection.

Coldwater Creek's stores are still open and selling clothing and other goods to shoppers, as is its website.

The company said Friday that it expects to start sales to liquidate inventory in early May. It plans to hold going out of business sales in the coming months.

Coldwater Creek Inc. is getting $75 million in debtor-in-possession financing from existing lender Wells Fargo to help it wind down its business.

SUBWAY-BREAD INGREDIENT

Subway: 'Yoga mat' chemical almost out of bread

NEW YORK (AP) — Subway says an ingredient that has been dubbed the "yoga mat" chemical will be entirely phased out of its bread by next week.

The disclosure comes as Subway has suffered from bad publicity since a food blogger petitioned the chain to remove the ingredient.

The ingredient is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and can be found in a variety of products. But the blogger said she targeted Subway because of its healthy food image.

The petition gained attention after it noted the chemical was also used as a bleaching agent and to make yoga mats.

Tony Pace, Subway's chief marketing officer, told the AP in a phone interview that the chain started phasing the ingredient late last year and that the process should be complete within a week.

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

The Associated Press

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