August 7, 2022

Wall St. Banks Expected to Post Weak 2nd-Quarter Results

But when the bank reports its second-quarter results this week, that hot streak will have come to an end. Analysts expect JPMorgan to count an almost 20 percent drop in its sales and trading revenues, reflecting a slowdown in investor activity and the dismal performance of its fixed-income and commodities groups.

Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are expected to report similar news. After helping prop up Wall Street during the financial crisis, core trading revenue is projected to drop, on average, by as much as 25 percent from the first quarter, according to Credit Suisse research.

That will put further pressure on the banks’ growth prospects, which are already strained by stagnant loan growth and more stringent regulation. It is also prompting nearly every major Wall Street firm to contemplate another round of layoffs amid growing concerns that at least part of the weak results are permanent.

“We are undoubtedly being impacted by lower levels of activity,” said William Tanona, a financial services analyst with UBS. “There is a lot of uncertainty out there.”

Together, the five Wall Street banks are still going to take in more than $20 billion from their core trading operations, largely from business done on behalf of clients. For example, the banks routinely help airlines hedge oil prices or bring together buyers and sellers of stock, bonds and other complex securities — often putting their own money on the line to facilitate a trade. But during the second quarter, the business was particularly hard hit.

Trading volumes fell sharply as investors became unnerved by the running debt crisis in Europe, the political standoff over the debt ceiling in the United States, and lingering concerns over the anemic growth of the broader economy. Even when investors did place their bets, they were far more hesitant to take big risks — something known on Wall Street as lacking conviction. That meant the banks missed out on the lucrative fees they can generate by selling more high-octane products, like complex options and derivatives.

Fixed-income traders, among the biggest moneymakers for Wall Street, faced a bruising market. In the commodities business, for example, oil, gold and other metals prices had been rising quickly during the early part of the year as investors anticipated high demand for materials to keep the global economy humming. But as cracks in the recovery kept surfacing, prices headed south — and traders raced to the sidelines. That left most Wall Street desks, which had stocked up on inventory to facilitate trades, holding losing positions.

At JPMorgan, for instance, energy traders were having a gangbuster year, earning several hundred million dollars for its burgeoning commodities unit. Yet when the market turned in early May, they gave back some of those gains, according to market participants. Morgan Stanley, meanwhile, suffered tens of millions in losses on its interest rate desk when a bet on lower inflation turned against the bank’s position.

Mortgage trading did not fare much better. After rallying from highly depressed values for much the last two years, mortgage-backed securities prices fell sharply during the second quarter. The reason? The government started dumping into the market its vast portfolio of mortgage bonds acquired from its rescue of the American International Group, and investors believed the outsize supply would cause values to plummet. (Only recently, when the Treasury announced it was halting its auctions, did mortgage bond prices start to stabilize.)

Although the banks have slowed the spill of red ink from troubled mortgages and other bad loans, they are struggling to increase revenue in their more traditional banking businesses, too.

New financial regulations have chipped away at once-lucrative sources of income, like overdraft charges and credit card penalty fees. Starting this fall, banks are expecting to absorb a multibillion-dollar hit when they are forced to sharply lower the fees they charge each time consumers swipe their debit cards. Higher capital requirements, meanwhile, could further depress profits if some banks are forced to lighten their balance sheets or exit certain businesses altogether.

Article source:

Speak Your Mind