MCD) posted a 1.4% rise in February sales at restaurants open at least 13 months, with help from strength in the U.S. Last week, Wal-Mart ( WMT) also had sales growth to report, and went against the grain by raising its dividend. Capital One ( COF) became the latest bank to cut its dividend on Monday. The company said that scaling back to 5 cents a share from 37.5 cents will preserve more than $500 million in capital annually. Wells Fargo ( WFC) cut its dividend on Friday, following other banks like PNC ( PNC), JP Morgan Chase ( JPM) and Bank of America ( BAC). In other banking news, Credit Suisse ( CS) nominated a new Chairman, Vice Chairman Hans-Ulrich Doerig, in light of Walter Kielholz moving to become the Chairman of Swiss Re.
Meanwhile, the Financial Times and CNBC reported that Bank of America is starting to withdraw offers to some MBA students that graduate from U.S. business schools this year, as one of the provisions of the TARP bailout money prevents the bank from applying for H1-B visas for immigrants if they have recently laid off U.S. workers. Job cuts continue, as U.S. publisher McClatchy ( MNI), which owns 30 daily newspapers, said it will slash 1,600 jobs, or about 15% of its workforce, as advertising sales struggle. In commodities, oil was down 7 cents at $45.45 a barrel, and gold was lower by $6.70 at $936 an ounce. Longer-dated Treasuries were rising. The 10-year note was adding 4/32 to yield 2.8%, and the 30-year was adding 7/32, yielding 3.5%. The dollar was recently stronger against the yen, pound and euro. Stocks overseas were largely lower. The FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were down more than 1% apiece. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Japan's Nikkei closed lower by 1.2% and 4.8%, respectively.