Market Focus

American Express

American Express saw its first quarter profit rise as credit card customers spent more money. The world’s biggest credit card issuer said that although consumers are cautious about taking on more debt, loan balances have been modestly increasing. Revenue came in lighter than expected, but rose from the year earlier period. Shares were initially down after hours. The stock ended the regular session up 1.5 percent to $87.40.

Bank of America

$6 billion dollars in legal charges weighed on Bank of America’s first quarter earnings. The hefty fee is related to the bank’s mortgage settlement with regulators stemming from the 2008 financial crisis. Separately, there are reports that the bank is in talks with the Department of Justice to resolve a probe into Merrill Lynch’s sale of flawed mortgage securities. Shares tumbled more than 1.5 percent to $16.13.

SodaStream

Reports that SodaStream is in early talks to sell up to a 16 percent stake to a large investor sent shares way up in today’s session. Pepsi Co, Dr. Pepper Snapple and Starbucks were all mentioned in the report as potential investors in the at-home soda maker. Shares popped eight percent to $40.75.

Gap

Shares of Gap rose on news it plans to triple sales in China over the next three years, which would make the asian nation its second largest market. Gap opened its first Old Navy store in China earlier this year. The plans were announced at the retailer’s annual investor meeting today. Shares closed at $39, a gain of 1.5 percent.

UnitedHealth

UnitedHealth was the worst performing Dow component today after a downgrade from Citi. The insurer is set to report earnings tomorrow and Citi’s analyst says he expects strong first-quarter results, but limited opportunities for earnings growth this year. The firm lowered its its rating to “neutral” from “buy.” Shares fell more than 1.5 percent to $78.19.

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