Yellen is a former CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and has served as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board since 2010. KBW Washington analyst Brian Gardner in a note on Wednesday wrote that despite some opposition from Republicans in the Senate to Yellen's nomination, "we expect her to be easily confirmed." Gardner also addressed the potential opposition of Yellen based on her support of the Federal Reserve's extraordinary monetary stimulus efforts. "We should also add that prominent inflation hawks like John Taylor have praised Dr. Yellen's qualifications and the ability to handle the job while disagreeing with her on policy. In our view, this makes it tough for a critical mass of Republicans to block the Yellen nomination."
Time to Focus on Bank Earnings
Earnings season for major U.S. banks will kick off early Friday, when Wells Fargo ( WFC) announces its third-quarter results, with JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) also reporting before the market open. Plenty of coverage heading into third-quarter earnings season has centered on the major decline in mortgage loan production, as rising long-term interest rates have curtailed the refinancing wave. Atlantic Equities analyst Richard Staite in his preview for eight large-cap banks on Sept. 23 estimated the group's third-quarter mortgage production revenue would plunge 45% from the second quarter and 55% from the third quarter of 2012. Staite also estimated that trading group for the eight large-cap banks he covers -- including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan, Bank of America ( BAC), Citigroup ( C), Morgan Stanley ( MS), U.S. Bancorp ( USB) and PNC Financial Services Group ( PNC) -- would decline 20% in the third quarter from a year earlier. But despite those painful revenue declines, Staite estimated a total revenue decline of just 5% year-over-year for the group, reflecting a continuing decline in expenses and "relatively stable net interest income." For Wells Fargo, the consensus third-quarter net income estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is $5.229 billion, or 97 cents share, compared to 98 cents the previous quarter and 88 cents a year earlier. The consensus third-quarter revenue estimate is $20.973 billion, declining from $21.378 billion in the second quarter and $21.213 billion in the third quarter of 2012. Wells Fargo's shares on Thursday rose over 2% to close at $41.22.