Legal costs, lower trading hold down JPMorgan profit

JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported a 7 percent decline in fourth-quarter earnings Wednesday, hit by legal costs and lower trading revenue.

Its results also fell short of Wall Street forecasts and sent the company’s stock down 3.5 percent for the day.

JPMorgan, the biggest bank in the U.S. by assets, has been hit by legal costs over the past year as it settles lawsuits or other issues with state and federal regulators over its role in the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis. In the latest quarter, it took a charge of $990 million for legal expenses, more than analysts expected.

Fed survey finds economy growing at moderate pace

The U.S. economy was growing at a moderate pace in December and early January, helped by gains in sales of autos and other consumer products, but a big drop in oil prices was starting to have an impact in Texas and other energy regions, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday.

The Fed said business contacts in its 12 regional banking districts were seeing “modest” or “moderate” growth.

Payrolls grew in a variety of sectors, but significant wage gains were seen only by workers with specialized technical skills.

White House sets limits for methane emissions

The Obama administration announced plans Wednesday to dramatically reduce the amount of methane seeping from oil and gas installations, taking aim at a pollutant that accounts for nearly 10 percent of the greenhouse gases emitted by U.S. sources each year.

The combination of new regulations and voluntary measures is expected to slash industrial emissions of methane by 40 to 45 percent over the next decade, saving money for taxpayers while clamping down on a major cause of climate change, White House officials said.

If implemented, the plan would prevent the loss of 180 billion cubic feet of methane, enough to heat 2 million American homes for a year, the officials said.

Google: Expect driverless cars on road in 2 to 5 years

The head of self-driving cars for Google expects real people to be using them on public roads in two to five years.

Chris Urmson says the cars would still be test vehicles, and Google would collect data on how they interact with other vehicles and pedestrians.

Google is working on sensors to detect road signs and other vehicles, and software that analyzes all the data. The small, bulbous cars without steering wheels or pedals are being tested at a Google facility in California.

– From news service reports