Citigroup reports record fourth-quarter profits

NEW YORK -- Citigroup Inc., the nation's largest financial institution, reported record profits for the fourth quarter but said that 2005 earnings could be at the low end of Wall Street expectations. On Wednesday, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the No. 2 bank behind Citigroup, missed its earnings target amid charges for the integration of Bank One operations. A day earlier, Bank of America Corp., the nation's third biggest bank, reported sharply higher fourth-quarter earnings that matched Wall Street expectations.

Auto loss doesn't stop Ford Motors profit

DEARBORN, Mich. -- Income from Ford Motor Co.'s financing and credit business helped the nation's No. 2 automaker swing to a $104 million profit in the fourth quarter despite a loss on the automotive side. The company, which released fourth-quarter and year-end results Thursday, withheld its financial forecast for 2005 until next week. Ford's profit for the October-December period compared with a loss of $793 million a year ago, when it incurred heavy charges for restructuring in Europe.

AT&T expecting weak performance in 2005

NEW YORK -- AT&T Corp. closed out another rough year with a strong fourth quarter driven by aggressive cost-cutting and restructuring efforts, but the telephone company issued a dour forecast for the year ahead. Earnings for the final three months of 2004 nearly doubled to $625 million. More than half of the latest profit came from a tax benefit related to last fall's huge writedown in the value of AT&T's long-distance phone network.

JPMorgan Chase raises past links to slavery

NEW YORK -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Thursday filed a disclosure statement with the city of Chicago acknowledging that two of its predecessor banks had received thousands of slaves as collateral prior to the Civil War. The New York-based bank, the second largest in the nation, apologized for contributing to "a brutal and unjust institution" and said it was setting up a special scholarship fund in Louisiana to try to make amends.

Economic indicators increase in December

NEW YORK -- A closely watched measure of future economic activity rose for a second consecutive month in December, pointing to sustained, gradual growth. The Conference Board, a private research group, said Thursday that its Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.2 percent last month, following a revised gain of 0.3 percent in November. The gains in the index followed five months of declines. The index predicts economic activity over the coming three to six months.

Appeal court rejects suit against Internet analyst

NEW YORK -- A federal appeals court agreed Thursday that a lower court was right to throw out class-action lawsuits blaming investors' losses in two Internet companies on failures by one-time star Internet analyst Henry M. Blodget. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the prior court's decision on the lawsuit brought by investors.