Business & labor at a glance

Huntington reports first-quarter increase

Huntington Bancshares Inc., the holding company of Huntington National Bank, on Wednesday reported a first quarter net income of $166 million, which marks a $17 million increase over its 2014 first quarter net income of $149.1 million.

Earnings per common share for the 2015 first quarter were 19 cents, an increase of 2 cents from a year ago.

Huntington’s board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of 6 cents per common share payable July 1 to shareholders of record June 17.

The board also authorized the repurchase of up to $366 million of common shares over five quarters through the 2016 second quarter.

EBay beats 1Q forecasts

SAN JOSE, Calif. – EBay Inc. on Wednesday reported first-quarter net income of $626 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier.

On a per-share basis, the San Jose, California-based company said it had net income of 51 cents. Earnings, adjusted for restructuring costs and stock option expense, came to 77 cents per share.

The results surpassed predictions.

Farmers reports no change to net income

CANFIELD – Farmers National Banc Corp., the holding company of Farmers National Bank, on Wednesday reported there was no change in first quarter 2015 net income in a year-over-year comparison.

Net income for the three months that ended March 31 was $2.2 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, which was the same net income for the first quarter that ended March 31, 2014.

The company reported a new income of $2.1 million for the final quarter of 2014 that ended Dec. 31.

The company also reported its noninterest income increased 17.6 percent compared to same quarter in 2014; loans increased 7.6 percent since March 31, 2014; and non-performing assets to total assets remain at low levels, 0.71 percent as of March 31.

Prices remain steady in area bank stocks

First Niles Financial remained at $8.50 a share at close on Wednesday and Cortland Bancorp stayed at $15 a share.

Staff, wire reports

Business & labor at a glance

New scoring system aims to help people with poor credit

NEW YORK – People struggling with a bad credit score, or lack of one, could benefit from a program rolling out in the next few months aimed at making it easier to get a Visa or MasterCard.

The company behind the widely-used FICO credit score announced Thursday a pilot program to help millions of Americans get easier access to credit, based on their record of paying utility bills, instead of their history of loan repayments.

The potential reach of the program is huge. An estimated 53 million Americans, or a quarter of the U.S. adult population, don’t have FICO scores created by the company Fair Isaac. Roughly 90 percent of all lending decisions – credit card applications and auto loans, among others – are based on that score. Banks would normally deny credit to anyone without one, or they could charge them significantly higher interest rates, because the applicants would be considered risky. Scores range from 300 – poor – to 850 – perfect – and are determined by a borrower’s credit payment history, outstanding balances and length of credit history.

Jury orders Chrysler to pay $150M in Jeep fire death

NEW YORK – A jury in Georgia has awarded $150 million to the family of a 4-year-old boy killed when a Jeep Grand Cherokee caught fire after a crash.

Jurors in Decatur County ruled Thursday that Chrysler acted with reckless disregard for human life in selling the boy’s family a 1999 Jeep with a gas tank mounted behind the rear axle.

Remington Walden, of Bainbridge, Georgia, was killed when the Jeep driven by his aunt was hit from behind by a pickup truck in March 2012. The fuel tank leaked, engulfing the Jeep in flames and killing the boy.

Jurors ruled after a seven-day trial that Chrysler was 99 percent at fault for the crash and the pickup driver was 1 percent at fault.

Chrysler, which makes Jeeps, recalled 1.56 million of them in June 2013 under pressure from U.S. safety regulators. The rear-mounted tanks have little structure to protect them if struck from behind, making them susceptible to punctures and fires.

No changes in area bank stocks prices

First Niles Financial remained at $8.50 a share at closing on Thursday. Cortland Bancorp stayed at $15.30 a share.

Vallourec names Coignac new senior vice president

Vallourec Group, which operates Vallourec Star’s local pipe mill in Youngstown, has named a new senior vice president who will serve as president of the company’s North America operations.

Nicolas de Coignac took over his new post Wednesday, leading all Vallourec business in North America, and drilling operations worldwide. He reports directly to Philippe Crouzet, group chairman.

The move is in line with Vallourec’s new simplified organization by region to enhance customer proximity and increase operation efficiency, the company reported.

The group is now structured in four world regional hubs, regrouping existing businesses.

Dominion’s Standard

Choice Offer rate drops

WARREN – April rates for Dominion East Ohio’s Standard Choice Offer / Standard Service Offer are 21.5 percent lower than last month’s rates, and 47.9 percent lower than they were in April 2014.

Effective April 14, the new rates will be $2.61 per thousand cubic feet (mcf), or 71.4 cents lower than the March SCO / SSO rates were at $3.324 per mcf. Also, the new rates are $2.404 lower than the April 2014 SCO / SSO rates of $5.014 / mcf.

The rates, filed this month on Wednesday, apply to choice-eligible customers who do not purchase from an Energy Choice supplier or participate in a governmental aggregation program.

U.S. factory orders took a jump during February

WASHINGTON – Orders to U.S. factories rose in February, breaking a six-month losing streak.

Factory orders rose 0.2 percent in February, which was the first increase since July, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The climb was a welcome development for manufacturers struggling with disappointing economic growth in major trading partners like China, Europe and Japan. A stronger U.S. dollar also makes U.S. goods more expensive overseas.

However, the news for February was tempered by a revision in the January figure: orders fell 0.7 percent, worse than the 0.2 percent drop the government originally reported.

Excluding volatile transportation orders, factory orders rose 0.8 percent, the most since June.

Staff, wire reports

Orders for autos and auto parts fell 1.2 percent, and orders for private aircraft and aviation parts dropped 8.8 percent.

Orders for durable goods, meant to last at least three years, fell 1.4 percent. Nondurable goods orders rose 1.8 percent in February, pulled up by rebounding prices for petroleum products. In another encouraging sign, orders in a category viewed as a proxy for business investment fell 1.1 percent. That was an improvement on the 1.4 percent drop that appeared in a separate, preliminary report last week.

Tim Quinlan, an economist with Wells Fargo Securities, said the “weakness in manufacturing has been overstated by a confluence of one-off factors” including disruptive snowstorms and the shutdown of West Coast ports in a labor dispute. Still, he wasn’t particularly impressed with the February numbers.

“I think we’re due for a stretch of better reports,” Quinlan said. “But today’s report wasn’t it.”

A trade group reported Wednesday that U.S. factories expanded last month but at a weaker pace. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, said its manufacturing index slid to 51.5 in March from 52.9 in February. It was the fifth straight drop. But any reading above 50 signals growth.