CNN Financial News Producer
Citigroup surprised Wall Street today by delivering its first profit in more that a year… well, sort of anyway. The company reported net income of $1.6 billion during the first quarter, up from a loss of $5.1 billion a year ago.
But here’s where it gets confusing: after you factor out an accounting change and factor in dividend payments made to the government on preferred stock related to the banking bailout, Citigroup actually posted a loss of $966 million.
Since the credit markets began to unravel in late 2007, the company has posted net losses of nearly $30 billion. That led the government to take a $45 billion stake in Citigroup in the form of preferred shares and warrants to help stabilize the bank.
Also on the earnings front today, General Electric posted a first-quarter profit Friday that fell substantially from year-ago results, dragged down by weak earnings at its embattled finance division.
The company, which owns the NBC TV network and makes everything from light bulbs to jet engines, said it net income fell 35% to $2.9 billion - beating Wall Street's expectations. But revenues fell 9% to $38.4 billion, and that was a miss.
And after the closing bell Thursday, Google said first-quarter profits climbed 8.9% to $1.42 billion – topping Wall Street's forecast amid a tough advertising environment.
More disturbing news on the jobs front today… unemployment rose in nearly every state in the Union last month, with Michigan leading the way at 12.6%.
The most dramatic increase in March was in Oregon, which went from 10.7% to 12.1% - the second-highest among the states.
Oregon was followed by South Carolina, at 11.4% and California, at 11.2%.
Michigan’s job market has been hit hard by the battered auto industry. The Big Three carmakers have shed tens of thousands of jobs because of giant corporate losses and waning demand for vehicles.
Finally, now that April 15 is in the rearview mirror, are you expecting a hefty tax refund? You may have visions of plasma televisions and Hawaiian vacations. But with the economy locked in recession and the unemployment rate at a 25-year high, there might be more practical ways to spend the extra cash.
More than 70% of tax filers typically receive a refund. So far this year, the average refund is $2705, 11% higher than last year, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service.
In past years, tax refund splurges were common. But this year is different. CNNMoney.com asked a handful of personal finance experts to weigh in on how your priorities ought to stack up in today's economy.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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