The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) ended with a slight decline to close at 63.60, with the 24 index components evenly split between winners and losers.
The broad indices all ended lower after James Bullard -- the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a member of the Federal Open Market Committee -- said during an interview on Bloomberg TV that the FOMC on Wednesday made a "borderline decision" not to curtail the Fed's bond-buying, based on recent economic data. Bullard went on to say the tapering of the "QE3" balance sheet expansion by the Fed could take place as soon as next month.
After the broad market's strong favorable reaction to Wednesday's FOMC decision, which was followed by a very rough Thursday for several large regional banks that may be waiting even longer than they had previously expected for short-term interest rates to rise, Bullard may have rekindled the market's hysteria over Federal Reserve policy.Bullard said he was "a little dismayed at those in markets that are saying they're surprised" by the FOMC's decision on Wednesday. Then again, his comments may confuse the market again, since the possibility of tapering next month is a bit different from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's statement during his Wednesday press conference that "We could move later this year." Then again, both Bullard and Bernanke emphasized this week that the FOMC's decisions would be "data dependent." Shares of JPMorgan Chase (JPM) on Friday were up a nickel to close at $52.80, one day after the company was hit with $920 million in fines from four bank regulators, springing from the "London Whale" trading debacle, along with another $369 million in customer refunds and fines for "illegal credit card practices." TheStreet reported that JPMorgan's attorneys believe CEO James Dimon will face no individual charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission , and that corporate litigation experts see little benefit to plaintiffs suing JPM from the bank's "historic" admission of wrongdoing. Societe General on Friday initiated coverage of the "big four" U.S. banks, with "buy" ratings for Bank of America (BAC) and Citigroup (C), but "hold" ratings for the far more profitable JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo (WFC).
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