DALLAS - Higher fares are helping Southwest Airlines make more money than Wall Street expected, but the company says automatic federal spending cuts could hurt revenue in April.

The average passenger fare on Southwest is now more than $150 one-way, 4 percent higher than a year ago.

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Southwest said Thursday that first-quarter net income was $59 million, or 8 cents per share. That's down from earnings of $98 million, or 13 cents per share, a year ago.

Without gains from fuel-hedging contracts, Southwest would have earned 7 cents per share, topping analysts' forecast of 2 cents per share.

The airline says revenue was weaker than expected in March and that's continuing in April. The company says it's "cautious" because of the effect of federal spending cuts, but that recent bookings for May and June are solid.