News in brief

Wealth unit jobs cut at Bank of America

Bank of America is trimming its wealth-management, banking and lending group as higher interest rates continue to crimp business on Wall Street, forcing banks to make broader cuts.

Fewer than 200 staff members were offered different roles in other parts of the company while a handful, including some loan officers, were let go, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Salaries are being kept the same for everyone affected, while bonuses will vary based on new roles.

Bank of America has held back on large job cuts seen elsewhere in the industry. Earlier this year, the Charlotte, N.C.-based company started telling executives to pause hiring, except for the most vital positions, as the company tries to keep a lid on costs and prepare for a possible economic downturn.

After the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. banking giants largely concluded that mortgages were better in moderation. Bank of America spread out numerous legal settlements to resolve tens of billions of dollars in liabilities, largely stemming from the purchase of troubled subprime-mortgage lender Countrywide Financial.

Banks have retreated from financing offices and other commercial real estate amid slumping demand and rising rates, after a surge in lending in the first half of 2022. In the latter half of the year, the firms became more selective and stiffened borrowing terms while issuing fewer new commercial property loans.

-- Bloomberg News (WPNS)

Fewer durable goods ordered in February

Orders for durable goods declined unexpectedly in February, even as business-equipment demand ticked up.

Bookings for all durable goods -- items meant to last at least three years -- fell 1% in February after plunging 5% the previous month, Commerce Department data showed Friday. Excluding transportation equipment, durable-goods orders were unchanged.

The value of core capital goods orders, a proxy for investment in equipment excluding aircraft and military hardware, rose 0.2% last month after a 0.3% advance in January. The data isn't adjusted for inflation.

The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for core capital goods bookings to fall 0.2%. January was previously reported as a 0.8% increase. Economists expected orders for durable goods to rise 0.2%.

Even with the increase in core capital goods orders, the figures suggest a year's worth of interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve are starting to curb investment plans. That is expected to deteriorate further under rising economic uncertainty tied to an evolving banking crisis and slower growth in corporate profits.

Outside of a gain in core capital goods, orders were largely weaker. Bookings for computers, transportation equipment, machinery and communications gear all declined.

Core capital goods shipments, a figure that is used to help calculate equipment investment in the U.S. government's gross domestic product report, were unchanged.

The Commerce data showed bookings for commercial aircraft, which are volatile from month to month, decreased 6.6%. Boeing reported just five orders in February, compared with 55 orders in January.

-- Bloomberg News (WPNS)

Arkansas Index sees 0.14% daily uptick

The Arkansas Index, a price-weighted index that tracks the largest public companies based in the state, closed Friday at 736.88, up 1.06 points or 0.14%.

Only three of the index stocks closed with losses Friday, with Dillard's Inc. down 1.04%, Murphy USA Inc. down 0.31% and America's Car-Mart Inc. down 0.17%. Bank OZK saw the biggest gain, adding 3.96%, followed by Simmons First National Corp., which added 3.89%. Home Bancshares Inc. gained 3.10% on the day.

The index was developed by Bloomberg News and the Democrat-Gazette with a base value of 100 as of Dec. 30, 1997.

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