Synchrony, which was spun out of GE Capital in 2014, reported a smaller profit — 61 cents a share — compared with the 74 cents that many Wall Street analysts had expected.
The miss was driven partly by the company’s need to reserve more money to deal with potential defaults from consumers.
Investors took that as a worrisome sign that the credit quality of Synchrony’s cards — which total about $70 billion — is declining faster than predicted.
This could be a worrisome sign about broader stresses on the American consumer at a precarious time for the economy. — MICHAEL CORKERY
General Motors Delivers Solid Earnings
General Motors said on Friday that strong sales of pickups and sport utility vehicles drove a 34 percent increase in first-quarter earnings and positioned the company for a solid year ahead.
G.M., the nation’s largest automaker, reported that it earned $2.6 billion on revenue of $41.2 billion in the quarter, compared with a profit of slightly under $2 billion on revenue of $37.3 billion in the same period in 2016.
The company’s core North American market set a record for pretax profit, $3.4 billion, as buyers continued to flock to G.M.’s truck and S.U.V. lineup.
The results beat Wall Street’s expectations, despite continued losses in Europe and South America. G.M. announced earlier this year that it had agreed to sell its European operations to the French carmaker PSA Group.
G.M.’s stock was flat at midday after shedding morning gains. — BILL VLASIC
A Strong Quarter for Exxon Mobil
Exxon Mobil posted strong first-quarter earnings on Friday, as expected, with oil prices up by more than 50 percent from this time last year.
With cash flow up and capital and exploration spending down, net income jumped to $4.01 billion from $1.81 billion in the year-ago quarter. Exxon Mobil shares, which have slumped so far this year, climbed 1 percent in morning trading.
“Our results reflect an increase in commodity prices and highlight our continued focus on controlling costs and operating efficiently,” Darren W. Woods, Exxon’s chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.
But there were also signs of weakness in the quarter. The company’s United States exploration and production division recorded a loss of $18 million, and earnings in the company’s chemicals business fell by $184 million, a drop of more than 13 percent. — CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Time Inc. Won’t Sell Itself
Time Inc., the home of Sports Illustrated, People and Time magazines, has decided not to sell itself, ending a monthslong bidding process that could have signaled the end of an era for a company that was once the country’s most storied magazine publisher.
In recent months, five parties, including the Meredith Corporation, the publisher of Better Homes & Gardens and Family Circle, had expressed interest in buying Time Inc. in its entirety, according to people familiar with the bidding process. But in March, one party, an investor group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. and the media executive Ynon Kreiz, suddenly dropped out, raising questions about the sale of Time Inc, which had rejected an offer of at least $18 a share from Mr. Bronfman’s group late last year. — SYDNEY EMBER
The U.S. Economy Is Off to Slow Start in 2017
The Commerce Department on Friday provided its first statistical snapshot of the American economy in the first quarter, the gross domestic product estimate:
• The economy barely grew, expanding at an annual rate of only 0.7 percent.
• The growth was a sharp decline from the 2.1 percent annual rate recorded in the final quarter of last year. It was the weakest quarterly showing in three years.
• Consumption, the component reflecting individual spending, rose by only 0.3 percent, well below the 3.5 percent rate in the previous quarter.
The economy’s weakness reflected new caution among consumers. Other sectors like housing and business investment turned in a stronger showing, but not enough to offset factors like weaker retail sales.
Most experts believe the economy is picking up speed now, with Wall Street looking for growth at an annual rate of 2.8 percent in the second quarter. But initial hopes have been proven repeatedly to be too rosy — just two months ago, economists predicted that first-quarter growth would be roughly 2 percent. — NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
Also Moving: The Cloud Lifts Tech Earnings
• The moneymaking machines at the core of Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, are notably different. But in their quarterly earnings reports on Thursday, the three said cloud computing was growing faster than their larger, older businesses.
• Don’t forget to read the DealBook Morning Agenda.
Barclays Chief Apologizes (Again)
James E. Staley, the Barclays chief executive, offered another apology to investors on Friday about a “mistake” that led to an inquiry by British regulators into his treatment of a whistle-blower.
Barclays said this month that it was being investigated after Mr. Staley sought last year to uncover the identity of a whistle-blower who sent two anonymous letters about Tim Main, who worked with Mr. Staley at JPMorgan and who was hired by the Barclays chief to join the British bank.
Directors at Barclays have said they will formally reprimand Mr. Staley and make a “very significant compensation adjustment” to his bonus after the inquiry.
“I made a mistake,” Mr. Staley said on a conference call with journalists on Friday. “I was trying to protect a vulnerable colleague, but I should have left the organization to handle it. I’ve accepted the judgment of the board. We are cooperating fully with the regulatory investigation.”
On Thursday, Institutional Shareholder Services, a prominent proxy adviser, said that, because of concerns over the inquiry, investors should refrain from voting or abstain when Mr. Staley comes up for re-election to the bank’s board at the annual meeting next month.
The apology came as Barclays reported that its first-quarter profit declined 56 percent. — CHAD BRAY
More Good News for European Banks
The generally positive momentum for lenders in Europe in the first quarter continued on Friday as the Swiss bank UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland reported their results.
Profit at UBS rose 79 percent in the quarter, driven by gains in its investment banking and wealth management operations. Shares of UBS were up about 2 percent in early trading in Switzerland on Friday.
The Royal Bank of Scotland returned to a profit in the quarter, a positive sign for its chief executive, Ross McEwan, as he seeks to turn round the lender.
The quarterly profit was the lender’s first since the third quarter of 2015. The bank has reported annual losses for the past nine years, but says it expects to be profitable in 2018.
Shares of R.B.S. rose about 2 percent in early trading in London on Friday. — CHAD BRAY
Private Equity Firms Target Chinese Shoe Retailer
A consortium of investors led by the private equity firms Hillhouse Capital and CDH Investments have offered to buy China’s Belle International in a transaction that would value the shoe retailer at $6.8 billion.
The consortium, which includes two of Belle’s executive directors, have offered to pay 6.30 Hong Kong dollars, or about 81 cents, a share for Belle, China’s largest footwear retailer for women’s shoes, the company said.
That represents a premium of nearly 20 percent to the company’s share price before trading was halted at the company’s request on April 18.
Belle has suffered as China’s vast and fast-growing consumer culture changes the way it shops. Increasingly, Chinese people shop online, leading to booming business for American-traded online Chinese e-commerce firms like Alibaba Group and JD.com. But like in the United States, that shift has resulted in slower traffic at brick-and-mortar stores.
Belle said in March that its profit for the fiscal year that ended in February would be disappointing mostly from weak results from its shoe business. Still, it said same-store sales at its sportswear business posted growth in same-store sales in the last three months of that year. — CHAD BRAY AND CARLOS TEJADA