Here’s what’s important in the business world this morning:
UBS: Switzerland’s biggest bank UBS AG reported a 54 percent drop in first-quarter net profit for 2012 that it blamed Wednesday on a loss at the investment bank, an accounting charge on its debt and difficult market conditions.
First-quarter net profit fell to 827 million francs ($910 million) from 1.81 billion francs in the same period last year, the bank reported before trading opened in Zurich. The results did not meet analysts’ average estimate for a net profit of 1.2 billion Swiss francs ($1.32 billion).
UBS also offered a somewhat grim outlook for the second quarter of 2012, owing to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis, the U.S. federal deficit and continuing global uncertainties.
EU Unemployment: Unemployment across the 17-member eurozone rose by 169,000 in March, official figures showed Wednesday, taking the rate up to 10.9 percent in March – its highest level since the euro was launched in 1999.
The rate was up from 10.8 percent in February and 9.9 percent a year ago, and reflects the downturn in the eurozone economy as governments pursue tough austerity measures to deal with their debts – nearly half the countries in the eurozone, including Spain and the Netherlands, are now officially in recession.
U.S. Futures: U.S. stock market futures fell Wednesday after disappointing data on Europe’s economy and a report showing slowing job growth at home.
A day after the Dow Jones industrial average closed at its highest point in four years, Dow index futures slipped 0.38 percent to 13,168. Standard & Poor’s 500 futures fell 0.46 percent to 1,394, and Nasdaq 100 futures edged down 0.43 percent to 2,706.75.
Earlier, reports showed record unemployment in the 17 countries that use the euro, as nearly half of those nations are now officially in recession. Unemployment rose to 10.9 percent in March, reflecting the downturn in the eurozone economy amid tough austerity measures designed to deal with national debts. Unemployment even rose in Germany, which has pushed the austerity measures.
U.S. Hiring: A private survey shows U.S. businesses sharply reduced hiring in April, a cautionary sign two days before the government reports on monthly job growth.
Payroll provider ADP said Wednesday that businesses added just 119,000 jobs last month, far lower than a revised total of 201,000 jobs in March.
The number of jobs added was the fewest ADP has reported in seven months. Stock futures fell slightly after the report was released.
The survey covers hiring only in the private sector. And it has been known to deviate sharply from the government’s figures, which will be released on Friday. For example, the government said employers added just 120,000 jobs in March – much lower than ADP’s estimate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.