Bank Earnings Driven by an Old Favorite: Trading

Bank and brokerage earnings in the third quarter were driven by robust trading results, which had been elusive over the previous few quarters.  Financial market volatility, which increased in September, has continued to rise in October and is creating tailwinds for firms that trade and make markets in securities. With less capital being committed to trading books, brokers have become dependent on client activity to drive results. While dependence on client driven trading can exaggerate ups and downs in revenue and income, return on equity in the trading business has risen nicely. Other highlights from major bank earnings include continued strength in loan book credit quality, but a squeeze on net interest margins. We continue to feel good about banks from a credit quality standpoint, and with corporate credit spreads having risen in recent weeks (i.e. bonds having cheapened), we are looking to take action and increase our allocation to the financial sector.