BC-Business News Preview

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Among the stories Thursday from The Associated Press:

TOP STORIES:

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 10 a.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. UPCOMING: 450 words by 11 a.m., 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.

MARKETS & ECONOMY:

GLOBAL FINANCE — Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, and Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, hold opening news conferences as the annual spring meetings of global finance officials begin in Washington. By Martin Crutsinger and Maria Danilova. UPCOMING: 130 words after news conferences end around 10:45 a.m., then expanded.

FINANCIAL MARKETS —U.S. stocks are mostly lower in early trading as investors look over the latest batch of earnings reports. SENT: 140 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 5 p.m.

MORTGAGE RATES — Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. By Marcy Gordon. UPCOMING: 130 words after release of report at 10 a.m. 300 words by 10:45 a.m.

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.

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: 570 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: 380 words, photos. UPCOMING: Will be updated.

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.

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: 220 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.

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.