Monday, April 30, 2012

Banks book profits by boosting mortgage margins

Welcome to the morning roundup. Here's a look at what's news in banking and finance after the weekend.

Mortgage gains. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America are booking large mortgage banking profits on the surge in foreclosures by being reluctant to cut prices or loosen underwriting standards, the Wall Street Journal reports. Essentially, they "charge more and do less," as Guy Cecala of Inside Mortgage Finance put it, spreading the yield between mortgage-backed securities and mortgage rates.

May Day. The Occupy Wall Street movement is using tomorrow's May Day to reinvigorate their protests, planning to target Union Square and the Bank of America building in New York City, Bloomberg says. Occupiers began planning for the day in January. If their projections are correct, it will be the largest single demonstration since Zuccotti Park was cleared by police in November, the Daily Beast says.

Noisy earnings. Once again, bank earnings were bogged down in debt valuation adjustments and other accounting charges. tries to parse what they all mean.

Free checking for life. A San Francisco man has been granted free checking for life from Bank of America, Forbes reports. He initially opened a checking account with Virginia Commonwealth Bank in Arlington, Va., in 1971. At the time, that bank was offering free checking for life. After bank consolidation, the bank came to be owned by BofA, which imposed fees. The man was able to argue successfully that he should keep the promotion.

Analyst showdown. Two well-known Bank of America analysts are publicly arguing over their rating of the Charlotte bank's stock. Dick Bove, a frequent CNBC contributor and outspoken bank proponent, issued a research report criticizing Mike Mayo (known for being bearish on banks) for his sell rating on BofA. The Wall Street Journal hashes it out.