S&P 500 dips off record high, Dow rises on bank earnings

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 dipped after hitting a record high for the fourth session in five and the Dow Industrials rose on Wednesday, as Wall Street banks kicked off earnings season with first-quarter numbers that lifted hopes for a strong corporate rebound.

FILE PHOTO: A street sign, Wall Street, is seen outside New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

Goldman Sachs Group Inc rose 3.4% after it reported a massive jump in profit, capitalizing on record levels of global dealmaking activity.

JPMorgan Chase & Co’s shares fell 1.4% even as the largest U.S. bank’s earnings jumped almost 400%, as it released more than $5 billion in reserves to cover coronavirus-driven loan defaults.

Wells Fargo & Co jumped 5.5% after the bank bounced back to a profit of almost $5 billion, ahead of Wall Street estimates, as it reduced bad loan provisions and got a grip on costs tied to its sales practices scandal.

“The bank earnings were strong, but the market expected them to be strong,” said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management.

“So the question becomes how do the bank stocks rise more from here. That’s not clear. They have had a nice ride. I think there will be other places to make money more easily in the future.”

Despite bumper trading and investment-banking revenue, lending by both JP Morgan and Wells Fargo fell from a year ago. Investors will be watching this metric carefully in the upcoming earnings of smaller banks, which are more focused on traditional lending and deposit-taking.

“Financials have done well for a while, so we’re happy with that now but will we reach a point of diminishing returns in that sector? I don’t know,” said Drew Horter, president and chief investment officer of Tactical Fund Advisors in Cincinnati.

The S&P 500 financials sector was one of the best performers in the first quarter, rising 15% even as the Federal Reserve pledged to keep interest rates low in the near future. It rose a further 0.8% on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 energy sector was the largest gainer among the 11 sub-indexes, jumping 3.1% as it tracked higher oil prices. [O/R]

At 2:41 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 121.26 points, or 0.36%, to 33,798.53; and the S&P 500 lost 7.62 points, or 0.18%, at 4,133.97. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 84.01 points, or 0.6%, to 13,912.09, with high-flying technology stocks including Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Tesla Inc weighing on the index.

Coinbase Global Inc jumped upon its listing on the Nasdaq on Wednesday. Its shares opened at $381 versus a reference price of $250.

Cryptocurrency and blockchain-related firms including Riot Blockchain and Marathon Digital Holdings fell after soaring ahead of Coinbase’s debut and as bitcoin hit a record high of over $63,000 on Tuesday.

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