BC-APFN-Business News Digest

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Here are AP Business News' latest coverage plans, top stories and promotable content. All times EDT.

TOP STORIES:

MICROSOFT-SECRET SEARCHES — Microsoft is suing the U.S. government over a federal law that lets authorities examine customer emails or online files without the individual's knowledge. By Brandon Bailey. SENT: 260 words, photos. UPCOMING: Will be updated.

BIG BANKS-PROFIT PROBLEMS — Big banks aren't banking much in the way of profits. Energy loans turning bad, low interest rates and volatile markets are dragging down first quarter results for the nation's biggest banks and making the financial sector the worst performing part of the stock market. By Ken Sweet. UPCOMING: 700 words by 2 p.m., photos. Will incorporate EARNS-BANK OF AMERICA and EARNS-WELLS FARGO.

DIGITAL LIFE-VR NEWBIE — Virtual reality hype has been largely lost on non-gamers like our reporter — so she's been trying out VR demos ranging from virtual rollercoasters to the Tribeca Film Festival's storyscapes immersive storytelling showcase. And it's made her a believer — to a point. By Mae Anderson. UPCOMING: 700 words by 2:30 p.m., photos.

CHINA-WEB CELEBS — China's live-streaming sites have become a burgeoning cottage industry, offering money-making opportunities and even stardom to their mostly female hosts and an entertaining new alternative for millions of viewers to online dramas and stodgy state-controlled TV. By Louise Watt. SENT: 1,060 words, photos, video.

TAX TIME-EXTENSIONS-THINGS TO KNOW — Procrastinators rejoice: tax day is a bit later this year and if you can't make that, there's still time to file for an extension. Here are some things to know. By Sarah Skidmore Sell. SENT: 450 words, photos.

OF MUTUAL INTEREST-BORING BEAUTIFUL MUNIS — The tax-free bond market is boring again, and investors wouldn't have it any other way. Returns are steady for municipal-bond funds, and money is pouring in, a turnaround from previous years when panic periodically had investors fleeing. By Stan Choe. UPCOMING: 800 words by 2 p.m.

AP POLL-MADE IN THE USA — The vast majority of Americans say they prefer lower prices instead of paying a premium for items labeled "Made in the U.S.A.," even if it means those cheaper items are made abroad, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. By Josh Boak and Emily Swanson. SENT: 920 words, photos.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

GLOBAL FINANCE — The president of the World Bank lamented the weak state of the global economy and warned that the kind of tax evasion exposed in the Panama Papers investigation is fueling poverty around the world. By Martin Crutsinger and Maria Danilova. SENT: 220 words, photos, video.

FINANCIAL MARKETS —U.S. stocks are mostly higher in afternoon trading. Banks are rising as they continue to report their first-quarter results, and airlines are rising after Delta said the low cost of fuel boosted its business. Tech stocks are falling after dour projections from Seagate Technology. By Marley Jay. SENT: 600 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

MORTGAGE RATES — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged down this week to their lowest levels of the year, offering a continued incentive for purchasing during the spring home-buying season. By Marcy Gordon. SENT: 300 words, photos.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits plunges last week, matching a March figure that was the lowest level since 1973. By Josh Boak. SENT: 340 words, photo.

CONSUMER PRICES — U.S. consumer prices rise a modest 0.1 percent in March as a drop in grocery prices offsets higher energy costs. By Paul Wiseman. SENT: 250 words.

CONGRESS-PUERTO RICO — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress needs to "bring order to the chaos" in Puerto Rico and prevent U.S. taxpayers from having to eventually bail out the territory, which is facing a $70 billion debt. SENT: 570 words.

EARNINGS:

EARNS-DELTA — Cheaper jet fuel continues to give airlines a lift, helping Delta boost its first-quarter earnings by 27 percent to $946 million. By David Koenig. SENT: 630 words, photo.

EARNS-BANK OF AMERICA — Bank of America's first-quarter profit fell more than 18 percent from a year earlier, hurt by weak performance in its trading unit. SENT: 230 words, photo.

EARNS-WELLS FARGO — Wells Fargo's first quarter results fell 6 percent from a year ago, as the bank had to set aside more money to cover its struggling portfolio of oil and gas loans. By Ken Sweet. SENT: 330 words.

INDUSTRY:

MCDONALD'S-PROTESTS — Protesters calling for pay of $15 an hour and a union will be at McDonald's stores around the country Thursday as part of an ongoing push targeting the world's biggest hamburger chain. SENT: 400 words, photos.

PEABODY COAL-BONDING — The bankruptcy of yet another major coal company helps draws attention to plans for financially troubled coal companies to cover the potentially huge costs of filling and restoring to a natural state mines that sooner or later might permanently close amid the industry's downturn. By Mead Gruver. SENT: 530 words, photos.

QUEST-HEPATITIS TEST — Top testing company Quest Diagnostics is offering a new hepatitis C test that can help doctors determine which of the very expensive new drugs for the liver-destroying virus will work best for each patient, which could save patients and insurers lots of money and speed up cures. By Linda A. Johnson. UPCOMING: 230 words by 2 p.m., 400 words by 3 p.m.

BRITAIN-BP — British energy producer BP has weathered a revolt by shareholders who objected to increasing Chief Executive Bob Dudley's pay package by 20 percent after profit plunged last year. By Danica Kirka. SENT: 470 words, photos.

EXXON-CLIMATE CHANGE — Exxon Mobil Corp. is squaring off against government investigators who believe the energy giant covered up knowledge of how fossil fuels contribute to climate change. SENT: 220 words, photo.

POT BANKING — Because the pot industry in Oregon is forced to operate mostly in cash, so does its tax man — which is why state officials are spending $4 million to beef up security and services at its headquarters to handle large cash drop-offs from dispensaries. By Kristena Hansen and Eugene Johnson. UPCOMING: 850 words, photos.

GULF OIL SPILL-SAFETY — The president of the World Bank on Thursday lamented the weak state of the global economy and warned that the kind of tax evasion exposed in the Panama Papers investigation is fueling poverty around the world. By Cain Burdeau. SENT: 630 words.

TECHNOLOGY & MEDIA:

EUROPE-DATA PROTECTION — The European Union on Thursday approved new data protection rules to strengthen online privacy, streamline legislation between the 28 member states and boost police and security cooperation. By Raf Casert. SENT: 330 words.

INTERNATIONAL:

NKOREA-PAIN AT THE PUMP — Pyongyang drivers are feeling some pain at the pump as rising gas prices put a pinch on what has been major traffic growth over the past few years — and that might not be good news for the isolated country's shifting domestic economy. By Eric Talmadge. SENT: 920 words, photos.

EUROPE-ECONOMY — The latest bout of falling prices across the 19-country eurozone has ended — after just a single month. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 430 words.

BRITAIN-BEER MERGER — Anheuser-Busch InBev pledged not to eliminate any jobs in South Africa following its takeover of SABMiller as part of an agreement designed to expedite the merger. SENT: 130 words.

MONEY & MARKETS SUMMARY:

CENTERPIECE — E-readers like Amazon's Kindle may not be as hot as they once were, but the company continues to update them because it sees them as a gateway drug to pull people into its e-commerce ecosystem.

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT — Wells Fargo's first quarter results fell 6 percent, as the bank set aside more money to cover its struggling portfolio of oil and gas loans.

HOW TO REACH US:

Business News Supervisor Richard Jacobsen (800-845-8450, ext. 1680). For photos (ext. 1900.) For graphics/interactives (ext. 7636.) Expanded AP content: http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and technical issues: customersupport@ap.org, or 877-836-9477. Questions about transmission of financial market listings, call 800-3AP-STOX.

The full digest for AP's Money & Markets service can be found at markets.ap.org. For questions about M&M content, contact Stan Choe (800-845-8450, ext. 1807.