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BofA Q4'19 profit up; Morningstar nears SEC settlement; BlackRock AUM grows 24%

Some of the major banks and financial services companies reported quarterly results early this morning.

Bank of America Corp. reported fourth-quarter 2019 EPS of 74 cents, up from 70 cents in the year-ago period, and U.S. Bancorp reported an EPS of 90 cents for the most recent quarter, down from $1.10 a year ago.

PNC Financial Services Group Inc. reported net income attributable to common shareholders of $1.31 billion, or $2.97 per share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2019, up from $1.28 billion, or $2.75 per share, a year ago.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s fourth-quarter 2019 EPS was down year over year to $4.69 from $6.04.

BlackRock Inc. reported total assets under management of $7.430 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2019, up 24% from $5.976 trillion as of Dec. 31, 2018.

Intercontinental Exchange Inc. is set to launch a new data service that will help investors better assess the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities in companies. ICE Data Services is adding ESG terms and conditions data to its existing reference data offering for U.S. and international listed corporations. Its customers will be able to subscribe to receive primary ESG data points, including greenhouse gas emissions reported, board diversity metrics and almost 500 other key metrics of ESG-related data.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will continue with its overnight and 14-day term repo operations until Feb. 13, discarding initial plans to stop such operations by the end of January. The maximum size of its overnight operations will continue to be $120 billion, while the cap for its 14-day term repo operations will be lowered to $30 billion from $35 billion between Feb. 4 and Feb. 13. The limit for its 14-day term repo operations through January was retained at $35 billion.

Morningstar Inc. is close to a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged violations of rules that prohibit ratings analysts from being involved in sales and marketing for their companies, sources told The Wall Street Journal. The settlement involves ratings on asset-backed securities, and the company could be on the hook for several million dollars, according to the report.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved two bills that require reporting from prudential banking regulators, American Banker reports. The Prudential Regulator Oversight Act, introduced by Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., requires prudential regulators to give Congress semiannual reports and annual testimony on their supervisory and regulatory activities. The Cybersecurity and Financial System Resilience Act, introduced by Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., requires submission of detailed reports on how they are tightening cybersecurity among themselves and the financial institutions they supervise.

Fidelity Digital Assets, the cryptocurrency platform of Fidelity Investments, has opened in Europe to make digital money a mainstream investment vehicle, Reuters reports. The platform will act as a custodian for bitcoin held by London-based cryptocurrency investment firm Nickel Digital Asset Management, according to the news outlet.

Financial advisory firm Cerity Partners LLC boosted its assets under management to roughly $26 billion through its merger with New York-based wealth management firm EMM Wealth, which now takes on Cerity Partners' name and branding. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Morgan Stanley has promoted 130 executives to managing director, making it the smallest batch of annual promotions to the rank since 2002, a source told Bloomberg News. The company promoted 145 to the post last year, 153 the year before that and over 200 a decade ago, the report noted.

Not just regulatory agencies, even lawmakers are divided on Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting's plan to modernize the Community Reinvestment Act, according to a report in the American Banker. Republicans in Congress largely laud the proposal, but Democrats think it could harm communities and that lack of consensus among regulators would lead to confusion.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Thai bank eyes Myanmar bank stake; Australian banks want tighter fintech rules

Europe: Sweeping staff cuts at UBS; Italian banks' M&A view; Revolut to be valued at $5B

Middle East & Africa: QNB FY'19 result; Bank Audi's Egypt unit receives interest; Old Mutual wins case

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Rapid rate change bodes well for liability-sensitive regional banks' Q4 results: Regional bank earnings should highlight how a drastic change in the rate environment in 2019 has reversed net interest margin trends, but some analysts think investors will be more interested in forward-looking guidance than results.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng declined 0.39% to 28,773.59, and the Nikkei 225 fell 0.45% to 23,916.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.10% to 7,629.13, and the Euronext 100 was essentially flat at 1,157.62.

On the macro front

The U.S. PPI-FD, the U.S. Empire State manufacturing survey, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report, the U.S. EIA petroleum status report and the U.S. beige book are due out today.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

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