Stocks were mixed at midday as several economic data reports and quarterly earnings results in the financials sector made headlines.
The National Association of Home Builders reported no change in its housing-market index for this month, with a reading of 47. The index still remains at its highest level in more than six years, though economists had forecast a reading of 48 for January. Budget uncertainty in Washington along with concerns about potential homebuyers' access to credit has builders showing caution on their current outlook.
Industrial production in the United States rose by 0.3% in December to a reading of 98.1, the highest mark in four-and-a-half years. Production was in line with expectations, while capacity utilization improved to 78.8%, ahead of economists' forecasts. Manufacturing output was a key contributor to the rise in production.
However, the consumer price index, a key inflation indicator, revealed no change last month from November. Economists were expecting a slight increase in the core index, which removes food and energy prices, though the results were mainly in line with expectations.
Stocks on the Move
J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM) posted a 53% gain in fourth-quarter earnings, with a profit of $5.69 billion compared with $3.73 billion from the same quarter last year. Earnings per share beat Wall Street expectations while adjusted revenue was nearly in line. The firm also reported record net income for 2012. Much focus has been on the banking giant since the 'London Whale' situation last year, and J.P. Morgan also disclosed Wednesday of actions it has taken resulting from the derivatives-trading fiasco. Still, CEO Jamie Dimon, who saw a sharp pay cut, is optimistic for the current year. Shares were up slightly by 0.1% at midday.
Goldman Sachs Group (GS) reported that its fourth-quarter net income was $2.89 billion, nearly triple of the $1.01 billion from the same time last year. Revenue jumped by 53% to $9.24 billion, and both readings beat Street forecasts. The firm saw solid gains in trading and investment management revenue. In a statement, Goldman touched on how it is positioned for growth, compared with cost-cutting initiatives in previous quarterly statements. Shares were 2.8% higher at midday.
U.S. Bancorp's (USB) fourth-quarter profit increased by 5.2% to a profit of $1.42 billion. Revenue slightly rose by 0.2% to $5.11 billion, though earnings per share and revenue missed Street estimates. The bank saw a sequential improvement in loan growth and also lowered its provisions for loan losses. However, it continues to feel the pressure of low interest rates. Shares were 0.4% lower at midday.
Northern Trust's (NTRS) fourth-quarter earnings improved by 29% compared with the same time last year. The firm's profit was $167.7 million, and its revenue was $967.7 million, though both readings were slightly below Street forecasts. Northern Trust saw an improvement in fee revenue, but it also remains pressured by low interest rates. Shares were 3.1% lower at midday.
Kevin O'Shaughnessy does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.