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Goldman 1Q earnings surpass Wall Street estimates

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Goldman Sachs, in another sign that banks may be turning around, beat Wall Street's earnings expectations as it reported a profit of $1.66 billion for the first three months of this year. The bank also said it planned to raise $5 billion in stock to help it pay back government bailout funds.

The New York-based bank said it earned $3.39 per share, easily surpassing analysts' forecasts for profit of $1.64 per share. This compares with earnings of $1.47 billion, or $3.23 per share, in the quarter ended Feb. 29 of last year.

Goldman's news, released a day earlier than anticipated, came days after another top-performing bank, Wells Fargo & Co., said it expected to report record first-quarter earnings of $3 billion, well above Wall Street's estimates.

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Express Scripts to buy WellPoint unit for $4.68B

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) ¿ Express Scripts Inc. stands to gain considerable negotiating clout from its $4.68 billion deal to buy the pharmacy benefits management businesses of health insurer WellPoint Inc., and experts say that could mean savings for customers buying prescription drugs.

St. Louis-based Express Scripts said Monday it planned to buy WellPoint's NextRx subsidiaries in a cash-and-stock deal. Express Scripts is the third-largest pharmacy benefits manager, and the deal likely would vault it past No. 2 CVS Caremark and push it close to the top stand-alone company, Medco Health Solutions Inc., based on prescriptions managed.

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Shipper says piracy needs multinational solution

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) ¿ A multinational coalition must stand up against Somali pirates like the ones who raided an American cargo ship this week, the president of the company that manages the ship said Monday.

One country cannot stand alone against pirates like the ones who tried to hijack the M/V Maersk Alabama and held its American captain hostage, said Erik L. Johnsen, president of Mobile-based International Shipholding Corp., which manages the Alabama for owner Maersk Line Limited, based in Norfolk, Va. He said many seafaring nations must team to battle the problem.

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Stocks end mostly higher ahead of earnings reports

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Stocks ended mostly higher Monday ahead of a flurry of earnings reports that could determine whether the economy is really getting better, as investors have been hoping over the past month as they drove the market higher.

Early signs were good. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. surprised investors after the end of trading Monday when it released better-than-expected quarterly results and announced a $5 billion stock offering. The company had been scheduled to report results early Tuesday.

The bank's $1.7 billion profit was just the sort of good surprise traders were eager for Monday as they snapped up financial stocks. Some are looking for signs of recovery, while others don't want to get burned if banks beat the low expectations the market has set for the industry.

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Investors take Madoff to bankruptcy court

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ A small group of investors took Bernard Madoff to bankruptcy court on Monday, saying the disgraced financier bilked them out of nearly $64 million.

A Manhattan judge cleared the way for the newly filed Chapter 7 petition last week by granting a request from the same investors to lift a temporary order barring bankruptcy for Madoff. They had argued that a bankruptcy case was needed to protect their rights amid an ongoing scramble to seize his assets.

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MetLife says it will not seek US Treasury funds

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ MetLife Inc. will not participate in the Treasury Department's capital purchase program, the New York-based insurer said Monday.

The company issued the statement in response to widespread speculation that life insurers may be the next group of financial services companies to seek a federal bailout.

One rival insurer, Genworth Financial Inc., saw its shares tumble 18 percent Monday, after its bid to qualify for the $700 billion program expired without Treasury approval. That failure cost the insurer its planned purchase of Minnesota-based InterBank, denying Genworth much needed capital.

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Oil settles near $50

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) ¿ Oil prices settled just above $50 a barrel Monday, recovering from earlier lows as traders continued to look to the equity markets for signs the economy is set to recover.

Benchmark crude for May delivery dropped $2.19 to settle at $50.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dipping as low as $48.84 earlier in the day.

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AP Poll: Taxpayers more frugal with refunds

WASHINGTON (AP) ¿ Hopes for an economic boost fueled by this year's tax refunds could be dashed as most people say they plan to be frugal with their annual windfalls.

In previous years, tax refunds have helped increase retail sales in March, April and May by 12 percent to 20 percent over sales in February, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman said Monday.

Thirty-eight percent of those receiving a refund said they intend to spend at least part of it, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll released Monday. But the spending appears to be mostly on basic needs: 17 percent said they would use the money for everyday needs such as food and clothing, up from 7 percent a year ago.

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American Airlines unveils newest jet in fleet

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) ¿ American Airlines will add the first of 76 new Boeing jets to its fleet this week in a move that the carrier hopes will cut fuel and maintenance costs.

The Boeing 737-800 aircraft will replace about one-fourth of American's current aging fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series jets, which have been the subject of several maintenance problems in the past year.

American took delivery of the first two planes late last month, held a media open house Monday, and planned to put them into service carrying passengers Tuesday in Chicago.

The planes are the newest generation of Boeing's workhorse 737 series. American already has 77 Boeing 737-800s it bought nearly a decade ago. They list for $72.5 million to $81 million. American officials said they paid less than sticker price, but wouldn't say how much.

___ By The Associated Press

The Dow fell 25.57, or 0.3 percent, to 8,057.81. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.17, or 0.3 percent, to 858.73, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 0.77, or 0.1 percent, to 1,653.31.

Benchmark crude for May delivery dropped $2.19 to settle at $50.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after dipping as low as $48.84 earlier in the day.

In other Nymex trading, gasoline for May delivery fell 1.78 cents to settle at $1.4632 a gallon and heating oil dropped 3.08 cents to settle at $1.3980 a gallon.

In London, Brent prices fell $1.92 to settle at $52.14 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Meanwhile, natural gas futures on the Nymex gained 1.8 cents to settle at $3.628 per 1,000 cubic feet, down from a July peak of $13.69. Lower prices mean consumers could save money on heating next winter, with some already signing contracts with distributors to lock in current low rates.
Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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