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By Jason Stipp and Jeremy Glaser | 04-17-2015 06:00 AM

Friday Five: Banks Start Earnings Season Without a Bang

Plus, strong results push Netflix shares further out of reach this week, while Google stock gets more interesting as European regulators make a move.

Jason Stipp: I'm Jason Stipp for Morningstar, and welcome to The Friday Five, Morningstar's take on five stories in the market this week.

Joining me with The Friday Five is Morningstar markets editor Jeremy Glaser.

Jeremy, thanks for being here.

Jeremy Glaser: You're welcome, Jason.

Stipp: First this week: Bank earnings kicked off earnings season, and I guess you could say they went off without a bang?

Glaser: It was not a terribly exciting quarter for the banks, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Given the amount of drama that surrounded these big institutions for so long, having a quarter that was more or less normal is a good sign.

There are a few key trends, one being what was happening with trading revenues in a quarter that was very volatile. Goldman Sachs, in particular, really benefitted from that volatility in their earnings.

There were some signs, particularly at Bank of America, that some of the legal and regulatory woes might be receding somewhat. But as we saw from JPMorgan and others, they are not completely out of the woods yet, and heightened regulatory scrutiny is something that banks are going to be living with for a long time.

And then at the core of their business, this very low interest rate environment is making it very difficult to expand net interest margins and profitability. Banks are going to need a more normalized interest rate environment to really see their profitability rise.

And finally is cost-cutting: All the banks seemed to be successful in finding areas that they can cut costs in order to continue to drive earnings, even in this low interest rate environment.

Stipp: Big pharma firm Johnson & Johnson also reported. They had a steady quarter, but not perhaps without any bumps at all.

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