Stocks Slip Following Earnings Reports From JPMorgan, Citigroup - TheStreet.com

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Stocks were lower on Thursday, Oct. 12, retreating from records set a day earlier as big banks kicked off the third-quarter earnings season. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.13%, the S&P 500 fell 0.15%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.14%. The Dow clinched a record close on Wednesday for the second day in a row. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also scored all-time closing highs with just small gains. 

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)  was up slightly changed on Thursday, failing to get a rise after better-than-expected earnings. Earnings of $1.76 a share rose from $1.58 a share a year earlier and beat consensus of $1.65. Revenue increased 2.7% to $26.2 billion, exceeding estimates by $970 million. 

Trading revenue saw a sharp 21% decrease to $4.53 billion as previously warned by the company. CEO Jamie Dimon forecast in September that volatility in markets would increase trading revenue down the line. 

Citigroup Inc. (C)   also beat earnings and revenue estimates in its third quarter. Earnings of $1.42 a share came in a dime over estimates. Revenue increased 2.3% to $18.17 billion, $270 million higher than expected. Global consumer banking revenue increased 3% and institutional client group revenue rose 9%. However, corporate revenue sank 55%. 

Bank of America Corp. (BAC) , Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) and PNC Financial Services Group Inc. (PNC)  will report on Friday, Oct. 13.

Citigroup is a holding in Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells C? Learn more now.

Analysts anticipate another quarter of earnings growth. The third-quarter blended earnings growth estimate sits at 5.5%, while revenue growth is expected to come in at 4.3%, according to Thomson Reuters estimates.

Producer prices in September doubled from a month earlier, a promising sign inflation is beginning to rise toward the Federal Reserve’s 2% target. The U.S. producer price index rose by 0.4% in September, matching analysts’ estimates. The index had climbed by 0.2% in August. Core prices, excluding food and energy, gained 0.2%. Producer prices increased by 2.6% on a year-over-year basis, the highest level since 2012. 

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

U.S. consumer prices for September, to be issued on Friday, Oct. 13, are anticipated to have risen 2.2% year over year, and 1.8% excluding food and energy.

Questions over the inflation outlook and what it means for future rate hikes kept the Federal Reserve split at its September meeting, according to minutes released on Wednesday. Many members of the Federal Open Market Committee said another rate hike by year’s end was likely to be warranted if the medium-term outlook remains unchanged, according to minutes from the September meeting. However, some said that decision should be based on incoming data on inflation.

Inflation trends remained a conundrum to most members. Participants “expressed concern that the low inflation readings this year might reflect not only transitory factors, but also the influence of developments that could prove more persistent, and it was noted that some patience in removing policy accommodation while assessing trends in inflation was warranted.”

The chances of a December rate hike slipped to 86.7% in the afternoon session from 92% before the minutes, according to CME Group fed funds futures. Markets are currently pricing in a rate hike of 25 basis points that would put the federal funds rate at 1.25% to 1.5%.

The need to normalize monetary policy as the economy recovers and a concern over inflation trends has left the Fed mixed on how to proceed. Arguments on both sides have merit, according to analysts.

“Any rebound in inflation could put the Fed “behind the curve” and raising rates too slowly while lower inflation may imply the Fed is being too aggressive in raising rates,” said Bryce Doty, senior portfolio manager at Si Fixed Income Advisers, in a note. “Understandably, the minutes suggest there is not a consensus amongst Fed members on when to best raise rates again.”

Weekly jobless claims saw a sharp decline in the past week. The number of new claims for unemployment benefits declined by 15,000 to 243,000, according to the Labor Department. The less volatile four-week average fell by 9,500 to 257,500. 

Crude oil prices were lower ahead of a weekly reading on crude oil on Thursday. Stockpiles have receded in the past few weeks as operational refineries continue to work through the buildup in stocks caused by Hurricane Harvey. The EIA’s weekly report was shifted from its normal Wednesday release to Thursday to accommodate the Columbus Day holiday. 

West Texas Intermediate crude was down 1.5% to $50.53 a barrel on Thursday. 

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