By Matt Scuffham
NEWYORK (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co’s better-than-expected first-quarter earnings raised expectations that rival Wall Street lenders would follow suit when they report next week, pushing most bank stocks higher on Friday.
Shares in JPMorgan jumped as much as 4.7 percent in morning trading, touching a more than four-month high before paring some gains.
Morgan Stanley shares were up 3.8 percent and Bank of America Corp rose 2.8 percent. Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup shares both climbed 2 percent.
JPMorgan is the largest U.S. bank by assets and a bellwether for the U.S economy and financial sector. It reported strong results across its businesses, with Chief Executive Jamie Dimon citing solid U.S. economic growth, moderate inflation and robust consumer and business confidence.
Even a 10 percent fall in JPMorgan’s trading revenue from a year earlier was viewed as boding well for others, since analysts had been bracing for a bigger drop in fixed-income and equities trading.
“JPMorgan had a positive read-across for trading results in the quarter,” said KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl. “We believe FICC (fixed income, commodities and currencies) trading should be a positive read-across to Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.”
Bank stock investors appeared to zero in on JPMorgan and ignore Wells Fargo & Co, the other big bank that reported on Friday.
Wells Fargo reported higher first-quarter earnings but lowered its forecast for net interest income this year, a move that sent its shares tumbling as much as 3 percent.
U.S. bank stocks had underperformed in recent months as economists and investors fixated on a flattening yield curve, normally the precursor to a recession. Bank executives have downplayed those concerns, pointing to continuing loan growth in the first quarter of 2019.
Since the start of December, the S&P 500 financial sector is up 0.3 percent, while the overall S&P 500 is up 5 percent. The S&P 500 banks index fell 2.5 percent over the same period.
Brushing aside global economic concerns such as Brexit and U.S.-China trade tensions, JPMorgan’s Dimon said the U.S. economy “continues to grow, employment and wages are going up, inflation is moderate, financial markets are healthy and consumer and business confidence remains strong.”
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Neal Templin and Meredith Mazzilli)