Goldman Sachs fears ease, boosting stocks

NEW YORK -- Investors snapped up financial stocks Monday after concerns eased about the government's case against Goldman Sachs.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a gain of 73 points Monday after sliding for much of the day. The advance followed a drop of 126 points Friday after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed civil fraud charges against Goldman Sachs related to mortgage investments.

Analysts said reports that the SEC vote of 3-2 along party lines to press its case against Goldman Sachs eased some of investors' worries. Investors seemed placated by the fact the vote wasn't unanimous. A rebound in Goldman shares helped lift financial shares.

Meanwhile, airline stocks fell after most European airports remained closed for a fifth day following the spread of ash from a volcano in Iceland. Analysts estimated that airline losses topped $1 billion. American Airlines parent AMR Corp. fell 4.3 percent, while United parent UAL Corp. lost 5.1 percent.

Citigroup reports big first-quarter profit

NEW YORK -- Citigroup Inc. provided more evidence Monday that the nation's big banks may have turned a corner. The bank reported a surprise first-quarter profit as trading revenue offset losses from failed loans.

Citigroup said it earned $4.4 billion after payment of preferred dividends, compared with a loss of $696 million a year earlier. That was the bank's biggest quarterly profit since the second quarter of 2007.

The company cited strong trading of bonds, stocks and other securities for its big profit. Citigroup, one of the hardest hit banks during the credit crisis and recession, said losses from bad loans fell for the third consecutive quarter. It also set aside less money for loan losses.

Citigroup's shares rose 32 cents, or 7 percent, to $4.88.

GE Aviation celebrates blade factory opening

GREENVILLE -- GE Aviation celebrated the grand opening of its new manufacturing plant Monday, which promises 100 jobs and a $30 million investment by 2013.

The 150,000-square-foot facility in Matrix Industrial Park makes high-pressure turbine blades used in commercial aircraft engines produced by GE Aviation. It currently employs more than 140 people. The expansion will allow the facility to include coating technologies and cut blade production time in half.

Toy sales make big comeback

NEW YORK -- Toys are increasingly making their way back into parents' budgets, Hasbro Inc.'s results showed Monday.

A big spike in sales of girls' toys and strong sales across the board helped Hasbro's first-quarter profit nearly triple. Revenue from girls' toys, including Littlest Pet Shop, My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake, rose 16 percent.

The second-largest U.S. toy maker also said that it is starting a $625 million share buyback program.

Both Hasbro and Mattel Inc., the largest U.S. toy maker, reported strong first quarters, indicating parents are beginning to spend more on their children as fears about jobs and the economy ease. Toys are usually one of the first categories to recover after an economic downturn because many parents spend on their children before themselves.