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How to read big bank earnings

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A version of this story first appeared in CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber? You can sign up right here. You can listen to an audio version of the newsletter by clicking the same link.

If market swings tell us anything, it’s that investors are rattled by economic uncertainty. The outlook remains cloudy with the possibility of recession on the horizon. Big bank earnings, coming Friday, could help clear some of that fog.

Wall Street will be looking for clues about what’s to come as the Federal Reserve continues to aggressively hike interest rates and cool the economy.

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What’s happening: Four of the nation’s largest banks — JPMorgan Chase

(JPM)
, Wells Fargo

(WFC)
, Citigroup

(C)
and Morgan Stanley

(MS)
— report third-quarter earnings before the bell on Friday. Their CEOs will also answer questions from investors, analysts and reporters about their views on the wider economy.

Banks are able to charge more for customers to borrow when interest rates go up — so in theory, this should be a good environment for them. But a weakening economy also means demand for loans is beginning to dry up. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expect profits to fall from the year-earlier period at all four banks.

Beyond disappointing headline figures, Wall Street analysts are focusing on three important factors: loan growth, capital adequacy, and the economic outlook.

Loan growth: The rate at which businesses borrow money from big banks doesn’t just tell us about the health of a financial institution itself. It also tells us a lot about whether businesses plan to expand over the next few months or if they’re preparing for a slowdown.

Analysts expect that loan growth stayed strong during the third quarter. “Credit risk and loan loss exposure are beginning to creep into the picture, but will not be front and center for Q3 2022 results,” wrote CFRA Research Director Kenneth Leon in a note.

But Wall Street estimates show that loan growth is expected to decelerate in Q4 and into next year.

Growth of Individual loans will likely decline, showing that Americans are beginning to feel the pinch of rising interest rates. Mortgage rates are now two times the level they were a year ago, and mortgage applications recently fell to a 25-year low.

Capital adequacy: Expect banks to take questions about how much money they have on hand. Recent upheaval in UK bond markets and negative headlines about Credit Suisse have caused concern about a “contagion” effect in the United States.

It’s unlikely the turmoil will lead to another Lehman Brothers-esque financial crisis: The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act forced banks to double their capital ratios and quadruple their liquidity. Large banks also participate in annual stress tests performed by the Federal Reserve to measure their capital adequacy.

Still, investors are worried about direct exposure to European banks.

The other issue, wrote UBS analysts in a note, “is that while banks have sufficient capital and deposit flows to support loan growth, it is less robust than it has been in recent years, and we expect banks to be less well positioned to return capital to shareholders through buybacks.” That will likely weigh on stock valuations.

Economic outlook: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has a knack for moving markets by predicting economic downturn. This week, stocks plummeted after he warned that the US could enter recession within the next six months. Expect more commentary on future outlook, and warnings from CEOs attempting to prepare investors for weaker days ahead.

Inflation won’t quit. Neither will the Fed

A key measure of inflation increased faster than expected in September, raising concerns that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive rate hikes are having limited impact in bringing prices under control, reports my colleague Chris Isidore.

The US Producer Price Index, which tracks what America’s producers get paid for their goods and services, rose at an annual pace of 8.5% in September, down slightly from the 8.7% rise in August, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. But the report showed prices rose 0.4% month-over-month.

Economists surveyed by Refinitiv had been expecting the 12-month rise in wholesale prices to slow to an 8.4% increase, and the month-to-month increase to come in at 0.2%, compared to the 0.1% decline in August.

The fight to bring down decades-high inflation has become a major concern for the Fed, which has been hiking interest rates at an unprecedented pace in an effort to cool the economy. But there are concerns that the Fed is raising rates too quickly, and that it could soon plunge the US economy into a recession.

Federal Reserve officials expressed concerns that inflation showed little sign of abating in the minutes from the central bank’s September meeting, released Wednesday. They reiterated their commitment to raising interest rates.

“Many participants emphasized that the cost of taking too little action to bring down inflation likely outweighed the cost of taking too much action,” the minutes read. “Several participants underlined the need to maintain a restrictive stance for as long as necessary.”

Federal officials are reportedly trading stock in companies they oversee

A bombshell investigation by the Wall Street Journal has found that thousands of government officials own or trade stocks that are directly impacted by the decisions their agencies make.

More than one in five senior federal employees across 50 federal agencies, from the Commerce Department to the Treasury Department in both Republican and Democratic administrations have invested in companies actively lobbying their agencies for policy changes, the investigation found.

Federal agency officials hold “immense power and influence over things that impact the day-to-day lives of everyday Americans, such as public health and food safety, diplomatic relations and regulating trade,” said Don Fox, an ethics lawyer and former general counsel at the U.S. agency that oversees conflict-of-interest rules. These trades present a clear conflict of interest and violate the spirit of the law, he told the Journal.

The bottom line: This report highlights the need for greater disclosure and trading regulations throughout the government. The same issues are also to be found in the legislative branch: There’s currently no federal statute, regulation, or rule that absolutely prohibits a Member or House employee from holding assets that might conflict with or influence the performance of official duties.

Up next

BlackRock

(BLK)
, Delta

(DAL)
and Domino’s report third quarter earnings before the bell.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the Consumer Price Index  at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Coming later this week:

▸ Earnings reports from big banks like JPMorgan Chase

(JPM)
, Wells Fargo

(WFC)
, Citigroup

(C)
and Morgan Stanley

(MS)
.

▸ The US Census Bureau is expected to release September retail sales data.

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Keystone pipeline temporarily closed following Kansas oil spill – Al Jazeera English

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The energy company in charge of the pipeline has not said what caused the spill or how much oil was released.

The Keystone pipeline has halted operations following an oil spill into a creek in the United States state of Kansas. The pipeline carries more than 600,000 barrels of oil from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast each day.

Canada-based TC Energy said in a press release that it shut down the pipeline on Wednesday night in response to a drop in pipeline pressure. The company has yet to offer information on the scale and cause of the spill.

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“The system remains shut down as our crews actively respond and work to contain and recover the oil,” the release said.

The spill resulted in oil leaking into a creek in northeastern Kansas and the company has said they were using machinery to prevent the oil from moving further downstream. Pipelines have long spurred concerns about the destructive potential of oil spills.

Another pipeline previously proposed by TC, the Keystone XL pipeline, would have been 1,930 kilometres (1,200 miles) long and cut across US states such as Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

That proposal spurred strong opposition from advocates who said it would increase the chance of spills, undermine the rights of Indigenous communities and worsen climate change.

Former President Donald Trump approved a permit for the contentious project in 2017 but a court halted construction in 2018 before the permit was cancelled by President Joe Biden’s administration last year.

TC finally abandoned the effort in June 2021 but has since filed a claim seeking remuneration for losses it says it faced because of the cancellation.

The spill on Wednesday occurred several years after the Keystone pipeline leaked about 1.4m litres (383,000 gallons) of oil in eastern North Dakota in 2019.

As word of the shutdown spread on Wednesday, oil prices ticked upwards by about five percent.

“It’s something to keep an eye on, but not necessarily an immediate impact for now,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline prices, according to the Associated Press. “It could eventually impact oil supplies to refiners, which could be severe if it lasts more than a few days.”

In their statement, Keystone said their primary focus was the “health and safety of onsite staff and personnel, the surrounding community, and mitigating risk to the environment through the deployment of booms downstream as we work to contain and prevent further migration of the release”.

Previous Keystone spills have resulted in stoppages that lasted up to two weeks. However, analysts have noted that the current stoppage could possibly last longer because it involves a body of water.

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Bank of Canada policy will ‘hit home’ in 2023: David Rosenberg

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The Bank of Canada may be signalling a possible end to its months-long aggressive interest-rate hike cycle, but economist David Rosenberg said next year will see the lagging impact of 2022’s monetary policy “hit home” for Canadians.

“Next year is the payback,” Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Rosenberg Research and Associates Inc., said in an interview with BNN Bloomberg.

“2022 was the year of the sharp run-up in rates, 2023 will be the year where the policy lags from those rising rates hit home.”

He made the comments Thursday, a day after the Bank of Canada raised its overnight lending rate by 50 basis points to 4.25 per cent, as the central bank continued with its approach to bringing down inflation.

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Rosenberg predicted a “severe recession” for Canada next year based on the rate hike cycle, calling for a “triple whammy” with economic impacts compounded by high levels of household debt, a housing bubble and ripples in the global economy.

Possible spillover effects from the interest rate cycle could be felt, Rosenberg said, as banks may constrain the availability of credit and spending drops across various sectors.

Based on the latest rate increase, Rosenberg said he predicts at potentially one more rate hike from the bank before a pause. Once inflation starts to come down, Rosenberg said he thinks the central bank may start to cut rates, possibly in the second half of 2023.

“The next stage is going to be waiting for the inflation to come down, which I think it will, and the recession is going to catch a lot of people by surprise,” he said.

A similar pattern may play out in the U.S., but Rosenberg said Canadians are more exposed to higher interest rates through variable-rate mortgages and because more consumer credit is tied to short-term interest rates.

“As bad as it’s going to be in the U.S., and believe me, it’s not going to be a pretty picture there, I think the Canadian situation in the next year is going to be clouded at best,” he said.

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CRTC rejects Telus’ request to charge credit card processing fee for some services

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ruled Thursday that Telus is not able to charge a credit card processing fee for regulated home telephone services.

This ruling applies to Alberta and B.C. services that are regulated by the CRTC, which are generally home telephone services in certain smaller communities.

Since Oct. 6, most Canadian businesses, except in Quebec, can charge their customers a fee for credit card transactions, following a class-action lawsuit filed by retailers against Visa, MasterCard and card-issuing banks.

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Quebec is not included in this decision due to the province’s Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits the application of such surcharges.

On Aug. 8, Telus filed an application with the CRTC to introduce a credit card processing fee of 1.5 per cent, plus taxes, for payments made with a credit card.

On. Oct. 17, Telus began to charge the fee to clients paying by credit card in areas where services are not regulated by the CRTC, which includes its wireless and internet customers outside of Quebec.

Telus does not need to ask for the CRTC’s approval to add the surcharge to its unregulated services but the organization said it is “very concerned” about this practice as it goes against affordability and consumer interest.

“We heard Canadians loud and clear: close to 4,000 of you told us that you should not be subjected to an additional fee based on the method you choose to pay your bill,” Ian Scott, chairperson and CEO of the CRTC, said in a statement. “We expect the telecommunications industry to treat Canadians with respect and do better.”

The CRTC said, with this ruling, it is sending a “clear message” to Telus and other telecommunications service providers that are thinking of imposing a fee like this one on their customers.

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