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Citigroup, GE Losses Less Than Expected

Citigroup says the first quarter of 2009 was much better than last year's.

The bank is reporting a loss to common shareholders of $966 million after massive loan losses and dividends to preferred stockholders.

But before paying those dividends, the bank is posting net income of $1.6 billion.

There has been a growing sense on Wall Street that the economy is starting to stabilize. But investors are looking to first-quarter earnings reports for confirmation that business conditions are improving.

However, Thursday's dismal jobless claims and housing reports showed that the economy has a long way to go before Main Street's financial health is restored, Bloomberg's Deirdre Bolton reported for CBS'The Early Show.

General Electric Co. says its first-quarter earnings fell 36 percent on sharply lower profits at its troubled finance arm, but the results beat Wall Street forecasts in a glimmer of good news for the struggling company.

GE, which has a stake in almost every large sector of the economy, from light bulbs to locomotives, had earnings from continuing operations of $2.9 billion or 26 cents per share. That surpassed the 21 cents per share forecast by analysts.

GE had net income of $2.7 billion, down from $4.3 billion, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

As for Citigroup, its overall results are better than expected. The company reported a loss per share of 18 cents, which was narrower than the 34 cents analysts predicted.

A year ago, Citigroup suffered a loss of more than $5 billion.

Citigroup has been one of the weakest of the large U.S. banks. But in March, CEO Vikram Pandit triggered a stock market rally after he said that January and February had been profitable for Citigroup.