About four stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.5 billion shares.___ GE breaks string of profit drops but revenue falls Cost cutting and an improved financial business helped General Electric Co. post its first increase in quarterly profit since 2007 on Friday, but sales remained sluggish for the industrial and financial giant. The better earnings ended a long string of declines at the Fairfield, Conn.-based company, which makes everything from refrigerators to jet engines. GE's outlook was largely upbeat, helped by improving orders and lower losses and its GE Capital lending unit. It sees profits continuing to grow next year. But the second-quarter results also reflect challenges posed to big companies by the nation's halting recovery. GE's revenue slipped 4 percent as industries like transportation were down. ___ China reduces US Treasury debt holdings in May WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ China reduced its holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in May as total foreign holdings of government debt posted a slight increase. China's holdings fell by $32.5 billion to $867.7 billion, the Treasury reported Friday. The report said that total holdings of Treasury securities edged up $5.8 billion to $3.96 trillion in May, a slight increase of 0.1 percent compared to April. The Treasury said that net purchases of long-term securities, a category that covers not only U.S. government debt but also debt of U.S. companies, increased by $35.4 billion in May. That followed bigger gains of $81.5 billion in April and $141.4 billion in March. ___ Gannett's stock dives after 2Q results disappoint Gannett Co., the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, moved closer to ending a 3 Â½-year slump in print advertising during the second quarter. But it still isn't feeling confident enough to predict when the biggest part of its business will begin to grow again.
The progress contained in earnings results released Friday evidently wasn't enough to satisfy investors, especially given management's hazy outlook. Gannett shares plunged more than 10 percent.As the owner of USA Today and more than 80 other daily newspapers, Gannett serves as a publishing bellwether. The New York Times Co., Lee Enterprises Inc. and McClatchy Co. are among the other major newspaper publishers scheduled to report earnings during the next two weeks. ___ Feds: Test results from well not as good as hoped NEW ORLEANS (AP) â¿¿ Pressure readings have been less than ideal from the new cap shutting oil into BP's busted well, but the crude will remain locked in while engineers look for evidence of whether there is an undiscovered leak, the federal pointman for the disaster said Friday. Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said on a conference call that pressure readings from the cap have not reached the level that would show there are no new leaks in the well. Allen said BP's test of the cap, which started 24 hours previously by shutting three valves and stopping the flow of oil into the water, would continue for at least 6 hours. It was scheduled to last up to 48 hours. ___ Dell: SEC staff to recommend accounting settlement ROUND ROCK, Texas (AP) â¿¿ Computer maker Dell Inc. said Friday it's getting closer to settling investigations by regulators into its accounting and the actions of CEO Michael Dell. The computer maker has proposed settlements to the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which the staff will recommend to the commissioners, the company said. Dell has already set aside $100 million to cover the cost of settling charges that employees had misled auditors and manipulated results to meet performance targets. ___ Apple CEO on antenna problem: 'We aren't perfect'
CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) â¿¿ A perfect iPhone? There's no app for that. Apple Inc. will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone to prevent reception problems that occur when people cover a certain spot on the phone with a bare hand.CEO Steve Jobs apologized Friday to people who are less than satisfied with the iPhone 4, even as he denied it has an antenna problem that needs fixing. The more than 3 million people who have already bought an iPhone 4 can go to Apple's website starting late next week and sign up for a free case, he said. Apple can't make enough of its $29 "Bumper" cases for everyone, so the company will let people chose from several case styles. ___ Regulators shut South Carolina bank WASHINGTON (AP) â¿¿ Regulators have shut down a South Carolina bank, bringing to 91 the number of U.S. banks failures this year amid the recession and mounting loan defaults. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday took over Woodlands Bank, based in Bluffton, S.C., with $376.2 million in assets. Bank of the Ozarks, based in Little Rock, Ark., agreed to assume the assets and deposits of the failed bank. The failure of Woodlands Bank is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund $115 million. By The Associated Press The Dow fell 261.41, or 2.5 percent, to 10,097.90. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 31.60, or 2.9 percent, to 1,064.88. The Nasdaq composite index fell 70.03, or 3.1 percent, to 2,179.05. Benchmark crude for August delivery settled down 61 cents at $76.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange in reaction to the economic news. Heating oil lost 0.7 cent to $2.0113 a gallon, gasoline fell 1.21 cents to $2.0486 a gallon and natural gas fell 6.7 cents to $4.519 per 1,000 cubic feet.
In London, Brent crude fell 16 cents to $75.37 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.