Goldman's lawsuit drags stock lower

NEW YORK -- Financial shares led the stock market sharply lower Friday after regulators filed civil fraud charges against Goldman Sachs.

The Dow Jones industrial was down as much as 170. At times, it fell below 11,000 after closing above that level Monday for the first time in more than a year and a half.

Analysts say the market was poised to fall after a run of gains the past two months, and the Goldman news gave investors a reason to sell. Investors also were disappointed after Google reported earnings that didn't live up to forecasts.

"Basically it's sell, and ask questions later," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Profit falls, but GE remains optimistic

NEW YORK -- General Electric on Friday reported a 32 percent drop in first-quarter earnings, but the industrial and financial bellwether said it saw signs of improvement in its own results and the broader economy. The results from GE, one of the world's largest companies and an operator in most major segments of the economy, signal that some sectors may be recovering from the deep recession.

But despite the optimistic tone, GE's earnings also underscored the major challenges the company faces as it tries to return to profit growth after several punishing quarters.

Its GE Capital lending unit posted a profit, but losses remained high in areas such as commercial real estate. GE's industrial units, which the company is relying on to lead it out of the recession, also posted lower sales. And while its earnings beat Wall Street estimates, revenue was lower than analysts expected. Net income was $1.87 billion after deducting preferred dividends in the quarter. Revenue fell 5 percent to $36.6 billion.

Bank of America's net tops forecasts

CHARLOTTE -- Bank of America on Friday posted a first-quarter net profit of $2.83 billion, returning the nation's biggest bank to the black after losing money for three of the past five quarters.

The profits just barely topped results from the same period a year ago, when the bank earned $2.81 billion. But they blew away analyst expectations, which were around $930 million.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan sounded the bank's most optimistic note about the economy in months, saying that "the worst of the credit cycle is clearly behind us at this point."

But, he added, "We're less than halfway home," with potential problems ranging from new regulations to improving shareholder return. He also said loan demand remains low and probably will as long as unemployment remains high.

Boeing, builder ink OSHA safety pact

Boeing Co. and the builder of its North Charleston aircraft factory, BE&K/Turner Joint Venture, on Friday signed what was described as a first-of-its-kind partnership with workplace safety regulators in South Carolina.

The agreement with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration means regulators will visit the site at least four times a year in addition to routine enforcement checks to monitor progress at the $750 million plant. The agency also will conduct safety training.

So far, the project has recorded 225,000 work hours without lost time or reportable incident.