Efforts to pare costs and cut assets are paying off for Citigroup, whose quarterly profit was at its highest in almost eight years. Adjusted net income in the first quarter rose to $4.82 billion, up 16%, or $1.52 per share. Analysts' average estimate was $1.39 per share. Investment banking revenue grew 14%.
Buoyed by its energy business, General Electric's first-quarter profit beat expectations. GE reported earnings of 26 cents a share while Thompson Reuters analysts had projected a profit of 21 cents a share.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said the banking giant does not need to participate in the Treasury's Public-Private Investment Program, prompting the government to defend the troubled-asset plan's viability. "We have no intent on using PPIP at all. We don't need it. We have our own assets. If we want to sell them, we'll sell them," Mr. Dimon told analysts. "If we want to buy them, we'll buy them." Analysts said Mr. Dimon's comments could undermine the program.
MasterCard will begin a consumer-awareness campaign this spring to promote prepaid cards. Many consumers do not understand general-purpose, reloadable prepaid cards, so the ad campaign will seek to demystify them, said MasterCard's Laura Kelly.
Officials in the Obama administration will meet Thursday with executives of credit card companies to discuss transparency of lending practices and interest rates, sources said. Before the meeting, the House Financial Services Committee plans to weigh a bill that would reform the credit card industry. Scott Talbott, senior vice president for government affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, notes there is "lots of misinformation" being circulated about credit cards and that the industry is "looking forward to a frank discussion with the administration about credit cards."