Bank of America Corp., the second-largest U.S. lender by assets, posted a third-quarter plunge in trading revenue that was more than twice as big as any U.S. rival so far.
Trading revenue was $1.07 billion excluding an accounting gain, a 71 percent decrease from the second quarter, according to figures released today by the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company. Fixed-income, currency and commodities trading generated $314 million, the lowest amount since 2008, while equities revenue was $757 million excluding debt-valuation adjustments, or DVA.
The global banking and markets division, overseen by co- Chief Operating Officer Thomas K. Montag, trailed JPMorgan Chase & Co., whose trading revenue fell 28 percent from the second quarter to $3.85 billion. Citigroup Inc.’s declined 31 percent to $2.56 billion. Bank of America’s trading revenue had topped both rivals in the year-earlier period, excluding DVA.
“Brutal trading results” were among the biggest disappointments in Bank of America’s results, Glenn Schorr, an analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc. in New York, wrote today in a note to investors.
The decline in trading revenue helped lead the banking and markets unit to its first loss since at least the first quarter of 2009, the furthest back the bank reports results for the division. The lender’s stock advanced in New York trading as overall results swung to a profit on higher revenue, better credit quality and one-time gains.
Fixed-income results were affected as the company wound down its proprietary trading business, which makes bets with the firm’s own money and contributed $434 million in the first half of the year and zero in the third quarter, Chief Financial Officer Bruce Thompson said today on a conference call with analysts. A slow market for new bond issues also hurt the FICC unit, Thompson said.
While structured-credit trading and the fair-value loan book posted small losses, the firm didn’t incur “significant losses” in any one area, Thompson said. Revenue at the rates and currency trading businesses fell 14 percent from the second quarter, he said.
“Obviously the volatility in the credit markets were particularly challenging in August and September,” Thompson said. “To date, I would say October has been a fair bit better” than August and September.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said today that trading revenue climbed about 5 percent from the second quarter to $3.61 billion, excluding DVA.
Stock and bond markets were roiled during the quarter by Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the U.S. government’s debt rating, a protracted Congressional debate over raising the government’s borrowing limit and the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave rates near zero until 2013 to combat stalling economic growth. Debate among European policy makers about how to solve deteriorating government finances and whether to add capital to banks also fueled investor concerns that missteps might lead to a new financial crisis.
The S&P 500 Index dropped 14 percent during the quarter, the worst decline since the fourth quarter of 2008, and the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, which measures the cost of buying insurance against drops in the S&P 500 Index, surged 160 percent to its highest quarterly reading since the first three months of 2009.
“You have to appreciate how uniquely difficult the third quarter was,” Charles Peabody, an analyst at Portales Partners LLC in New York, said in an interview with Betty Liu on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop.” “The correlation between asset classes, product sets and geographies was so unusual in the third quarter. There was no place to hide.”
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