BANKING
GOP bid to overhaul Dodd-Frank advances

House Republicans took a major step toward their long-promised goal of unwinding the stricter financial rules created after the 2008 crisis, pushing forward sweeping legislation that would undo much of President Barack Obama’s landmark banking law.

A House panel Thursday approved Republican-written legislation that would gut much of the Dodd-Frank law, enacted by Democrats in the wake of the financial crisis and the Great Recession. The GOP-led House Financial Services Committee voted along party lines.

Republicans argued that the Dodd-Frank law is slowing economic growth because of the cost of compliance and by curbing lending. Democrats warned that the GOP bill will create the same conditions that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

The bill would repeal about 40 provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Banks could qualify for much of the regulatory relief in the bill so long as they meet a strict basic requirement for building capital to cover unexpected big losses.

The measure is expected to pass the full House, but it will need 60 votes in the Senate to become reality, meaning the GOP will need several Democrats to join their effort.

— Associated Press

HOUSING
Credit Suisse settles suit for $400 million

Credit Suisse paid $400 million to settle a U.S. regulator’s claims that the bank’s improper sales of mortgage-backed securities contributed to the collapse of three corporate credit unions, the agency said Wednesday.

The agreement with the National Credit Union Administration resolves allegations in a 2012 lawsuit filed by the agency over the bank’s sales to corporate credit unions, which provide loans and other services to customer-facing credit unions. Credit Suisse settled without admitting or denying wrongdoing, NCUA said.

This is the latest deal NCUA has struck with big banks over their securities sales. The agency has collected more than $5.1 billion.

Credit Suisse’s settlement is tied to losses at the U.S. Central Federal Credit Union, the Southwest Corporate Federal Credit Union and the Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, the agency said.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

U.S. productivity fell in the first quarter by the sharpest amount in a year, while labor costs increased. Productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in the January to March quarter after rising at a 1.8 percent rate in the fourth quarter, the Labor Department said. It was the biggest drop since a 0.7 percent rate of decline in the first quarter of 2016. Labor costs rose at a 3 percent rate. Productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, has been weak through most of the current recovery.

Starbucks said it would expand its loyalty rewards program at grocery stores to include more products. The coffee chain’s move to more than triple the number of products it sells under the program follows customer backlash after it overhauled an existing program last year. Under the changes, customers earn two “stars” for every $1 spent and need 125 stars to get a free food or drink item. Customers earlier used to receive one star per purchase and could redeem 12 stars for an item. Starbucks said its U.S. customers could now earn stars on a wider range of products, sold mainly at grocery stores.

Orders to U.S. factories turned in the weakest performance in four months, although a key category that tracks business investment showed more strength. Factory orders edged up 0.2 percent in March, a significant slowdown from February’s gain of 1.2 percent. It was also the poorest showing since orders fell 2.3 percent in November, the Commerce Department reported. Despite the overall decline, a key category that tracks business investment rebounded to a 0.5 percent gain. U.S. manufacturers continue to rebound from a rough patch over the past two years.

The U.S. trade deficit fell in March to the lowest level since October. But the politically sensitive trade gap with China rose. The Commerce Department said the gap in goods and services slipped to $43.7 billion, down from $43.8 billion in February. Exports dropped 0.9 percent to $191 billion, due to falling auto exports. Imports fell 0.7 percent to $234.7 billion as imports of crude oil and other petroleum products slid. The trade deficit in goods with China rose 7 percent to $24.6 billion in March from $23 billion in February.

— From news services

Coming today

8:30 a.m.: Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims.

8:30 a.m.: Commerce Department releases international trade data for March.

10 a.m.: Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates.

10 a.m.: Commerce Department releases factory orders for March.

8:30 a.m.: Employment data.
3 p.m.:
Consumer credit data.
Earnings:
Fannie Mae.