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Banks Climb as Fed Permits Stock Buybacks to Resume

The Federal Reserve said that banks could resume stock buybacks in the first quarter. The move followed the banks' passing a second round of stress tests.
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Banking stocks jumped Monday after the Federal Reserve granted lenders the ability to resume stock repurchases, beginning in the first quarter. 

The results of a second round of stress tests, released Friday, indicated that Wall Street banks were sound, despite the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which devastated the U.S. economy. 

At last check JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report shares jumped 3.6% to $123.32, Citigroup  (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report shares rose 2.9% to $60.77, Bank of America  (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report gained 2.3% to $29.32, and Wells Fargo  (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report shares rose 1.6% to $29.47. 

The Fed in June had put temporary caps on shareholder payouts, prohibiting them from buying back stock or increasing dividend payments.  

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"The banking system has been a source of strength during the past year, and today's stress test results confirm that large banks could continue to lend to households and businesses even during a sharply adverse future turn in the economy," the Fed's vice chairman for supervision, Randal K. Quarles, said in a statement.

JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley released statements, saying they planned to resume buybacks starting next quarter. Citi and Goldman said they intended to resume such purchases next year. 

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan has said that his company plans to buy back stock as soon as it is allowed to. 

The six biggest U.S. banks could buy back as much as $11 billion of shares in the first quarter under the new distribution policy, according to Bloomberg. 

While buybacks have been given the green light, dividends will remain unchanged at least through March and will be capped by whatever each bank returned to shareholders in the second quarter of 2020.