April 13 - U.S. stocks completed their worst two-week period of the year with Friday's decline sparked by China, which offset better-than-expected first-quarter results from JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Conway G. Gittens reports.
April is shaping up to be a tough month for Wall Street with stocks down two weeks in a row. The selling pressure resumed on Friday after economic growth out of China failed to stand up to projections. Encouraging first-quarter results from JP Morgan Chase failed to offset those global economic concerns. America's largest bank by assets beat forecasts as it bounced back from a dismal fourth quarter. A lot of the strength came from the bank's retail finance arm, but investment banking was weak. Wells Fargo also topped forecasts due to strength in mortgage banking. But the nation's fourth-largest bank warned its cost reduction program may be underwhelming. Banks as a whole are expected to have the best reporting season in decades, but Chris Whalen of Tangent Capital thinks this will be the peak. SOUNDBITE: CHRIS WHALEN, SENIOR MANAGING DIRECTOR, TANGENT CAPITAL (ENGLISH) SAYING: "So I think all of these banks long term, over the next four, six, eight quarters, you are going to be hearing a lot of pain when it comes to the housing sector, and Wall Street is quiet. I mean there is not that much IPO activity, trading, everything else that a Goldman, Morgan Stanley depend on as their primary revenue sources are not doing that well." In the latest data, consumer prices rose modestly in March as price gains at the pump slowed dramatically. But prices are still higher than they were a year ago and that put a dent in consumer sentiment in early-April, as recorded by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey. Looking at the final numbers: stocks were down at least one or more percent on Friday. The Dow shed 1.6 percent for the week and the Nasdaq lost 2.2 percent. European markets were battered on Friday as worries about euro zone borrowing bosts came back in full force. Conway Gittens, Reuters