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US Banks Report Mixed Results Amid Slowing Economy & Upcoming Risks

US banking giants offer mixed financial results amid a resilient yet decelerating economy while flagging potential risks on the horizon.

Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo

Rising Profits Amid Economic Uncertainties

Several of the biggest US banks reported increased profits on Friday due to higher interest rates, painting a picture of a resilient economy. Encouraging signs were observed in sectors like deal-making, which had previously been struggling. However, they also flagged possible risks, noting that US consumers were cutting back on spending and losses were accruing in areas such as credit cards and commercial real estate.

Investor Reactions to Bank Results

Initial investor enthusiasm for results from JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup quickly waned, sparking fears that the best might already be behind. Despite higher inflation, strong labor markets, and good rate levels, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser remained optimistic about the health of the US consumer.

Net Interest Income Drives Profits

JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo reported sharp increases in net interest income - the difference between what banks earn on loans and pay on deposits - which drove up their profits. However, Citigroup's weak trading business offset gains in interest income, a challenge likely to affect other Wall Street-focused banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Second Quarter Profit Estimates Beaten, but Slowdown Observed

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, easily surpassed second-quarter profit estimates, but a slowdown in money inflows was evident. State Street Corp also exceeded profit estimates for the second quarter, though it warned of a future decline in net interest income driven by lower deposit levels.

The Effects of Rising Interest Rates

Zacks Investment Management's client portfolio manager, Brian Mulberry, warned of potential issues with loan demand if interest rates continue to rise. This sentiment was reflected in the reactions to bank results, which serve as a key insight into the health of the US economy. Many fear that the US Federal Reserve's aggressive rate hike campaign to combat inflation may push the economy into a recession.

Consumer Spending on the Downswing

Bank executives expressed concern over slowing consumer spending and a slight deterioration in some consumer debt, despite the general health of US consumers' finances. Data from the Federal Reserve also indicated a slowdown in consumer borrowing. Wells Fargo and Citigroup both warned of rising delinquency rates and charge-offs.

Anticipated Challenges in the Economic Landscape

Larry Fink, BlackRock's chief executive, anticipates a challenging economic environment, with sticky inflation levels expected to fluctuate between 2% and 4%. Additionally, banks are grappling with a decrease in deposit levels, with the annual growth rate turning negative and hitting its sharpest drop yet.

Investment Banking and Trading Struggles

The challenges in investment banking and trading have negatively impacted earnings in recent quarters. Despite early signs of recovery, executives are cautious to declare a trend reversal. JPMorgan and Wells Fargo also allocated more funds for expected losses from commercial real estate loans, a sign of accumulating stress in the sector.

Upcoming Bank Results

Bank of America and Morgan Stanley are set to release their results on July 18, followed by Goldman Sachs on July 19. These results will offer more insights into the state of the US economy and the financial sector.