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The Federal Reserve has kept the short-term federal funds in an extraordinarily low range of zero to 0.25% since late 2008. Since September, the Fed also has been making monthly purchases of $85 billion in long-term securities, in an effort to hold rates down.
According to the FOMC meeting minutes, "all but one member judged that a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy was warranted in order to foster a stronger economic recovery in a context of price stability."The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) rose over 1% to close at 56.87, with all 24 index components showing gains for the session, except for Capital One Financial (COF), which was down a nickel to close at $55.76. First-quarter earnings season for the big banks will kick off Friday, with JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (JPM) scheduled to report before the market opens. The consensus among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for JPMorgan Chase to report first-quarter EPS of $1.40 a share, increasing from $1.39 in the fourth quarter and $1.19 in the first quarter of 2012. In a note to clients discussing areas of focus for JPMorgan's earnings report, KBW analyst Frederick Cannon said in a note to clients late on Tuesday that "while much attention is paid to trading, investment banking, and net interest income, the company's asset management business quietly chugs along as the second-largest component of total revenues (15% in 2012)." "If the 4Q12 run rate of $3.7 billion in this line item were to hold true, it would represent approximately $14.8 billion in annual revenues versus our estimate of just $14.2 billion for 2013," Cannon wrote. KBW is behind the consensus, estimating that JPMorgan will report first-quarter earnings of $1.33 a share, with full-year estimates of $5.45 for 2013 and $5.70 for 2014.
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