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Top 4 Business Stories of the Day

Google's first-quarter earnings growth faltered as the Internet company dealt with a persistent downturn in advertising prices while spending more money to hire more employees and invest in daring ideas. Google's stock shed nearly 6 percent in extended trading. Although it remains highly successful, Google has been trying to adjust to a shift away from personal computers to smartphones and tablets. Google earned $3.45 billion, or $5.04 per share, in the quarter. Citigroup, which aspires "to become the world's digital bank", will not webcast its annual meeting next week in St. Louis. Of the top six U.S. banks, only Citigroup and Wells Fargo & Co do not allow investors to listen to live audio from their annual meetings. Analyst Mike Mayo told Reuters Citi's practice is "ludicrous." He said the bank needs to explain what it has learned since March, when the Federal Reserve rejected plans to boost dividends and buy back more shares, and investors should not have to fly to St. Louis to hear it. Several bankers familiar with deal said,Ahli United Bank Bahrain's largest lender, is evaluating a sale or a merger with a rival bank in a potential $5 billion deal. According to Thomson Reuters data, a deal of this size would be the largest banking transaction in the region for the past 20 years. It could also mark a revival of significant M&A activity in the Gulf where mergers tend to be difficult because major shareholders or prominent families,can be reluctant to cede control unless they get a generous price. The U.S. Federal Reserve should try to make its communications on the expected path of interest rates and the economy consistent with its policy statements, a top official at the central bank said on Wednesday. Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, acknowledged the most recent projections for interest rates were out of step with the Fed's pledges on policy. "It seemed to be inconsistent with the underlying decision of the committee and the underlying guidance," Lockhart told reporters in Atlanta.

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