Monday, July 22, 2013

Moynihan 'vindicated' by big bank resurgence?

Three years and a roller-coaster ride later, Bank of America's stock price is nearly back to the level it was when CEO Brian Moynihan took the helm. In a piece examining the first boost in big-bank revenue in four years, Bloomberg says the bank's performance has "vindicated" the chief executive and his counterpart at Morgan Stanley.

Greg Donaldson of Donaldson Capital Management tells Bloomberg: “Big banks are absolutely back ... The bleeding has stopped, and now they can spend time on figuring out how to make more money.”

They call the second quarter a "pivot point" for big banks in the post-financial crisis economic cycle. But fluctuating interest rates and strengthening regulatory oversight means they're not out of the woods yet.

STICKER SHOCK TO AFFECT HOUSING RECOVERY: When you go shopping for a home, you generally take a look at what your monthly payment will be. And while the recent rise in mortgage rates might not seem like much in the historical scheme of things, it adds up, the Wall Street Journal says.

Since mortgage rates started rising, the average payment on a $200,000 house has gone up $100 per month. For a $450,000 abode, it's gone up $250. That could keep some people on the verge of buying on the sidelines, experts told the Journal.

So the housing recovery is not over, and mortgages are still pretty affordable. But it's sure to have an impact on demand.

CHARLOTTE SPARED IN WELLS MORTGAGE LAYOFFS: Wells announced 350 layoffs in its mortgage unit as rising interest rates crimp demand. None of them, however, are coming in the Charlotte area -- which does a decent bit of mortgage business.

UNEMPLOYMENT UNCHANGED: The N.C. unemployment rate stayed at 8.8 percent. Business and professional services added the most jobs.

SUNTRUST PROFIT RISES: The Atlanta bank's profits rose 35 percent, barely beating Wall Street expectations, as expenses fell.

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Financial headlines

CHINA'S BANKS NEED CAPITAL: It ain't just America. Chinese banks will need as much as $100 billion more in capital over two years after the government eliminated a floor on interest rates, the Wall Street Journal reports. The move is meant to boost competition in lending, and that could ultimately hurt the banks' profitability -- boosting the need for funding.

BANKS DRIVING UP COMMODITIES: Big banks like Goldman Sachs are driving up the prices on commodities like aluminum by buying up the infrastructure used to store them, The New York Time reports. They're making billions in the process. Bloomberg reports that the Federal Reserve might strip the banks of their ability to conduct these activities.

WORK OUT INSTEAD OF DRINK: You always hear about business being conducted over a round of drinks. But these days, that's starting to be replaced by dealmaking at the (high-end) gym, Bloomberg says. Traders and salesman are meeting for 5 a.m. workouts instead of 5 p.m. happy hours.

OTHER HEADLINES: CNBC wouldn't show video of Sen. Elizabeth Warren taking anchor to task.

Around Bank Town

ON THE FRONT PAGE: It's budget week at the N.C. General Assembly, and changes to education are on the table ... Rutherford County co-op wants to put a power line through a video game developer's land. He's fighting back ...  AT&T worker follows dream by buying Lincoln County campground.

OVER THE WEEKEND: The airport saga continues to unfold ... Jerry Orr's legacy in the balance ... City vs. suburbs fight flaring in the legislature.

AHEAD THIS WEEK: Charlotte City Council meets tonight. Replacement could be chosen for interim mayor Patsy Kinsey in District 1... Airport is likely to come up .... Ingersoll Rand reports earnings Friday...

THE COMMUTE: Not too bad so far. Wilkinson Boulelvard is re-opened.

DOUGHNUT WARS: Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts battle for Charlotte on what they describe as inverse business models. The Winston-Salem company says it sells doughnuts first, then coffee. Dunkin' says it sells coffee, then doughnuts.

NEW CHARLOTTE BUSINESSES: The Chamber has put out a handy tool to track new and expanded businesses in Charlotte. It's got a clickable map showing where they are, and how many new employees they have.