Poll: Public pessimism

on economy is increasing

WASHINGTON - For the third year in a row, the nation's economic recovery has hit a springtime soft spot. Reflecting that weakness, only 1 in 4 Americans now expects his or her own financial situation to improve over the next year, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows.

The sour mood is undermining support for President Obama's economic stewardship and for government in general.

The poll suggests that just 46 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the economy while 52 percent disapprove. That's a negative turn from a more even split last September - ahead of Obama's November re-election victory - when 49 percent approved and 48 percent disapproved.

1Q results: GE on track; McDonald's profit higher

NEW YORK - In earnings reports Friday:

• General Electric's first quarter results were dragged down by deteriorating economic conditions in Europe, highlighting the danger that the region's struggles still pose to the global economy. But GE's results were roughly what analysts expected, and the company says it's on track to meet its financial goals for the year.

• McDonald's managed to eke out a higher profit for its first quarter even as the world's biggest hamburger chain failed to lift sales with its Dollar Menu.

SeaWorld makes a splash on NYSE, surges 24%

NEW YORK - SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. made a splash Friday in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The owner of theme parks famous for water shows featuring killer whales and dolphins jumped $6.52, or 24 percent, to close at $33.52 after the company and its backers raised $702 million.

Anheuser-Busch, DOJ reach deal on Grupo Modelo buy

Anheuser-Busch InBev has reached a final agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that could settle a dispute over its $20.1 billion acquisition of the Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo.

The world's largest brewer has been trying since June to buy the half of Grupo Modelo that it doesn't already own. The Justice Department sued to block the deal out of concern that a company that massive would stifle competition in the U.S.

The companies submitted an agreement Friday to the court and if approved, it is expected to close in June.

Jobless rates in March fell in 26 states; AZ unchanged

WASHINGTON - Unemployment rates fell in more than half the U.S. states in March even though job growth slowed. Rates fell largely because many of those out of work stopped looking for jobs and were no longer counted as unemployed.

Jobless rates fell in 26 states, rose in seven and were unchanged in 17, including Arizona's, which remained at 7.9 percent.

Suitors backing away from Dell amid PC slump

Buyout specialist Blackstone Group LP is dropping its effort to acquire Dell, and billionaire investor Carl Icahn is reportedly unlikely to follow through on his preliminary acquisition offer, as suitors digest studies showing a staggering decline in PC sales, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

G20 countries pledging stronger efforts for growth

WASHINGTON - World finance leaders are pledging to pursue further actions to bolster a disappointingly weak global recovery. They also reaffirmed their commitment to avoid using their currencies as an economic weapon to gain unfair advantage in foreign trade.

Finance ministers and central bank presidents from the leading rich and developing nations, or Group of 20, wrapped up two days of talks Friday with a joint statement that said they had managed to avoid some of the biggest economic threats, but growth was still too weak in many countries and unemployment too high.

The joint statement revealed no major new policy initiatives but did urge the United States and some other countries to emphasize efforts to jump-start growth even if that meant less emphasis on deficit reduction in the near term.

The Associated Press