JPMorgan's mortgage growth and credit improvements were matched by Wells Fargo, signaling widespread improvement in the thawing housing market.
"While the economic recovery remains uneven, we continued to meet our customers' financial needs and benefited from signs of stabilization in the housing market," said Wells Fargo chairman and CEO John Stumpf.
In a CNBC interview on Thursday, Warren Buffett said that while economic growth has fallen to a standstill, he is seeing a pickup in residential housing, in a comment on the economy that may also be reflected in bank earnings.
"The general economy in the United States has been more or less flat, and so the growth has tempered down. But the residential housing, we're seeing a pickup. It's noticeable. It's from a very low base," said Buffett, who noted that his tempered optimism was a 'flip-flop" from his outright bullishness on housing in 2011.Still, even as JPMorgan sees some of its businesses most tied to the U.S. economy improve, questions are likely to remain about its trading losses. In a call with investors, JPMorgan CEO Dimon called the construction of the banks' Chief Investment Office unit a 'mistake.' "CIO was a mistake and we are sorry," Dimon said on the special two-hour call to disclose what now stands as a $5.8 billion CIO unit trading loss. For now investors appear to be breathing a sigh of relief. "The key story is that the CIO "whale loss" is within expectations and mostly complete. This overhang is now largely removed and bodes well for the company as it refocuses on the underlying businesses," wrote Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski, in a note to clients. In Friday afternoon trading, JPMorgan shares surged over 5% to $35.89, while Wells Fargo rose over 3% to $33.89. For more on the contrasts between JPMorgan and Wells Fargo's earnings and business models, see why Warren Buffet shuns investment banks. -- Written by Antoine Gara in New York
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