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Bank of America profit tops estimates as higher rates boost income

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Bank of America profit tops estimates as higher rates boost income © Reuters. A person walks past a Bank of America sign in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 19, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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By Manya Saini and Lananh Nguyen

(Reuters) -Bank of America Corp reported a bigger-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Friday, helped by a surge in net interest income as the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates through most of last year.

The 'higher-for-longer' rate environment to battle decades-high inflation has underpinned profits at consumer banks, with analysts expecting those gains to peak in 2023 and help offset sluggish dealmaking as well as bigger loan loss provisions.

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)'s net interest income (NII), which reflects how much money the bank makes from charging interest to customers, jumped 29% to $14.7 billion in the quarter.

Its profit applicable to common shareholders rose 2% to $6.9 billion, or 85 cents per share. Analysts, on average, had estimated a profit of 77 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Though four-decade-high inflation rates are testing U.S. consumers, spending trends have still largely been positive, bolstering Bank of America's profit in its key consumer banking unit.

"The consumer still remains in pretty good shape," Chief Financial Officer Alastair Borthwick told reporters. "There's a lot of pent-up demand," especially for travel, he said.

Net income at the bank's consumer banking unit jumped 15% to a record $3.6 billion in the quarter. Combined credit and debit card spending rose 5% to $11 billion.

"We ended the year on a strong note, growing earnings year over year in the fourth quarter in an increasingly slowing economic environment," Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said in a statement.

The economic outlook darkened in 2022 as the Russsia-Ukraine conflict, high inflation and growing fears of a recession prompted lenders to set aside bigger reserves for bad loans and also cast a pall over capital markets, curbing investor appetite for deals and straining investment banking units.

The bank's revenue, net of interest expenses, increased 11% to $24.5 billion.

Bank of America's investment banking fees more than halved to $1.1 billion in the quarter, taking some shine off its consumer business.

By contrast, its trading division racked up record revenue for the fourth quarter and brought in the highest full-year revenue since 2010. Revenue surged 27% to $3.7 billion in the fourth quarter, fueled by a 49% percent jump in fixed income, currencies and commodities.

The bank's provision for credit losses was $1.1 billion, compared to a reserve release of $500 million in the year-ago quarter.

Its Wall Street rivals JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Co and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) also set aside larger provisions to prepare for a tougher economy.

Bank of America's income in its global wealth and investment management business declined 2%, while global banking fell 5%.

The bank continues to hire, particularly in wealth management, while also remaining disciplined on its expenses, Borthwick said. Its workforce swelled to 216,823 at the end of 2022 compared with 208,248 a year earlier.

"We don't have any plans for mass layoffs," he said.

That contrasts with Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), which started laying off more than 3,000 employees this week.

Bank of America's shares were down more than 2% in premarket trading. The stock lost about 25.5% last year.

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31-03-2024 10:19:50 (UTC+7)

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    EUR/USD 1.0793 Sell  
    GBP/USD 1.2624 Sell  
    USD/JPY 151.38 ↑ Buy  
    AUD/USD 0.6522 Sell  
    USD/CAD 1.3543 Buy  
    EUR/JPY 163.37 ↑ Sell  
    EUR/CHF 0.9738 ↑ Buy  
    Gold 2,254.80 Buy  
    Silver 25.100 ↑ Buy  
    Copper 4.0115 ↑ Buy  
    Crude Oil WTI 83.11 ↑ Buy  
    Brent Oil 86.99 Neutral  
    Natural Gas 1.752 ↑ Sell  
    US Coffee C 188.53 ↑ Sell  
    Euro Stoxx 50 5,082.85 ↑ Sell  
    S&P 500 5,254.35 ↑ Sell  
    DAX 18,504.51 ↑ Buy  
    FTSE 100 7,952.62 ↑ Sell  
    Hang Seng 16,541.42 Neutral  
    Small Cap 2000 2,120.15 Neutral  
    IBEX 35 11,074.60 ↑ Sell  
    BASF 52.930 ↑ Buy  
    Bayer 28.43 Buy  
    Allianz 277.80 ↑ Buy  
    Adidas 207.00 ↑ Buy  
    Lufthansa 7.281 ↑ Sell  
    Siemens AG 176.96 ↑ Buy  
    Deutsche Bank AG 14.582 ↑ Buy  
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