Top Headlines: BB&T merges with SunTrust, Mobile Chamber and BCA support gas tax

BB&T, SunTrust combine in $66 billion merger
Two of the largest U.S. regional banks are joining forces in a bid to compete with the nation’s biggest players. BB&T (BBT) and SunTrust (STI) on Thursday announced a $66 billion merger, forming the sixth-largest US bank based on assets and deposits. “It’s an extraordinarily attractive financial proposition that provides the scale needed to compete and win in the rapidly evolving world of financial services,” BB&T CEO Kelly King said in a statement. – CNN

Writer tells all about Delta’s first Airbus A220 commercial flight
On Thursday, the Airbus A220 jetliner official entered commercial service in North America with Delta Air Lines. Delta’s relationship with the A220, formerly known as the Bombardier C Series, started in 2016 when the carrier announced an order for 75 of the jetliners in a deal worth as much as $5.6 billion. Does the plane match the hype? – Business Insider

Apple CEO Tim Cook to address Tulane’s spring commencement
Tulane University’s spring commencement speaker will be Apple CEO Tim Cook. Tulane President Mike Fitts said in a Thursday statement that Cook represents the kind of success the university wants for all of its graduates. Cook, who grew up in Robertsdale, Alabama, was a Fuqua Scholar at Duke University where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University. – AP

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Five UAH programs ranked among the nation’s top 25 by NSF
The National Science Foundation has released its latest survey of federally financed research expenditures, and five programs at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) continue to be ranked among the nation’s top 25. They include Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering, 5th; Economics, 9th; Computer and Information Sciences, 10th; Atmospheric Sciences, 11th; and Astronomy, 21st. – News release

Mobile Chamber, Business Council leader support gas tax
It may have been a formality, but the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and Business Council of Alabama President Katie Britt have made it clear they back a gas tax increase expected to be a hot topic for the state legislature this year. On Thursday the Chamber held a luncheon to unveil its legislative agenda, with Britt as a guest speaker. – AL.com

Encompass Q4 results top Wall Street estimates
Encompass Health Corp. (EHC) on Thursday reported fourth-quarter net income of $28.1 million. The Birmingham-based company said it had profit of 28 cents per share. Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 80 cents per share. The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 79 cents per share. – AP

Medical Properties Trust reports earnings of $112.4M
Medical Properties Trust Inc. (MPW) on Thursday reported a key measure of profitability in its fourth quarter. The results met Wall Street expectations. The real estate investment trust, based in Birmingham, said it had funds from operations of $112.4 million, or 31 cents per share, in the period. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for funds from operations of 31 cents per share. – AP

Ford spending $1B to up SUV production in Chicago area
Ford is sinking $1 billion and adding more jobs to plants in the Chicago area to expand production of the redesigned Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator. The expansion comes as the automaker makes cuts overseas and shifts its lineup to make more SUVs, crossover-utility vehicles and trucks and away from sedans and sports cars, which have fallen out of favor with American drivers. – CNBC

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