By Lucia Mutikani WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New applications for unemployment benefits held near their pre-recession levels last week and factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region accelerated in April, painting a bright picture of the economy. The economy is regaining its footing after a brutally cold winter and is back on track for faster growth later this year. "The economy is stronger than you think," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in New York. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits ticked up 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000 for the week ended April 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday, staying close to a 6-1/2 year low touched the prior week.
General Electric Co posted a 12 percent rise in overall industrial profits on Thursday, as strength in its businesses selling gas turbines, jet engines and oil industry equipment offset weakness in healthcare and transportation. GE, which is increasingly focusing on its traditional manufacturing businesses over its finance unit, posted an 8 percent increase in industrial revenue, even as overall company revenue fell slightly short of Wall Street's target. "The big story is the organic revenue growth," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management, which owns GE shares. "It really shows the return to an industrial emphasis is paying off, and where the company is focusing." The results underscored GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt's strategy to focus the company even more on manufacturing of large industrial products as he reduces the company's dependence on its GE Capital finance unit.
UnitedHealth Group's first-quarter net income slid 8 percent as funding cuts to a key product and costs imposed by the health care overhaul dented the health insurer's performance.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for the second straight week as the spring home-buying season begins.
NEW YORK (AP) — Mexican food chain Chipotle reported a higher quarterly profit Thursday as more customers flocked to its restaurants for burritos, bowls and tacos.
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algerians trickled into voting booths on a sunshine-drenched Thursday to elect the president of this oil-rich North African nation in an election dominated by the ailing incumbent running for a fourth term.
By Aleksandar Vasovic and Alexei Anishchuk MARIUPOL, Ukraine/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Separatists attacked a Ukrainian national guard base overnight and Kiev said three of them were killed, the worst bloodshed yet in a 10-day pro-Russian uprising, accompanied by tough words from Vladimir Putin that overshadowed crisis talks. Ukrainian, Russian and Western diplomats arrived for the emergency meeting in Geneva, but there was little hope of any progress in resolving a confrontation that has seen armed pro-Russian fighters seize whole swathes of Ukraine while Moscow masses tens of thousands of troops on the frontier. The Russian president, who overturned decades of post-Cold War diplomacy last month by declaring Russia had a right to intervene in neighboring countries and annexing Ukraine's Crimea region, accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an "abyss".
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — An official says the son of Senegal's former president will be tried for illicit enrichment following an investigation into how he amassed his multi-million dollar fortune.
In a patriotic fervour, Russians are asking President Vladimir Putin to bring back the US state of Alaska, sold off to the United States in Tsarist times. During Putin's annual marathon phone-in session Thursday, when Russians pose questions to the Russian leader, a pensioner asked him to possibly follow the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine with the taking of Alaska. "Faina Ivanovna, dear, why do you need Alaska?" Putin asked the pensioner. "Alaska is cold too," he said.
DUBLIN (AP) — Two former executives of Anglo Irish Bank, the reckless lender that brought Ireland to the brink of bankruptcy, have been convicted of committing fraud in a loans-for-shares scandal.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine is introducing stringent checks for Russian citizens who want to cross the border into Ukraine.
New York (AFP) - US stocks fell modestly in early trade Thursday as poor earnings from Google and IBM set the tone despite solid quarterly reports from Goldman Sachs, General Electric and other firms.
London (AFP) - 15:09 GMT - 'Human tone' - Maria Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Centre in Moscow, says Putin adopted a "peaceful and human tone" during the broadcast, against the background of Russia’s vitriolic and bellicose state propaganda on the crisis.
General Electric Thursday reported lower earnings but higher industrial profits, thanks to gains in its two largest industrial segments. But GE's industrial sales rose from last year and the company grew profits in its two largest segments, aviation (up 19.1 percent) and power and water (up 23.5 percent). Results in the other industrial segments were mixed.
PARIS (AP) — David Cronenberg deconstructs Hollywood, Tommy Lee Jones goes Western and reclusive New Wave legend Jean-Luc Godard returns in 3-D in films competing at next month's Cannes Film Festival.