The Dow Jones Industrial Average is gaining this morning, buoyed by earnings reports from big banks JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Good news from the retail sector and a U.S. budget surplus for the month of December worked their magic as well.
Bloomberg reported that December's federal budget surplus of $53.2 billion was a great improvement over the $1.19 billion deficit of one year ago, as increased payroll taxes, big payments from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and a brightening economy helped push the excess revenue numbers higher than the $44 billion analysts expected.
In the retail arena, sales beat predictions as well, increasing 0.2% in December from the previous month. The U.S. Census Bureau noted that both nonstore retailers and motor vehicle sales rose 2.1% from the year-ago period. The National Retail Federation chimed in, saying that holiday sales were up 3.8% for November and December, though the prior consensus was a bit higher at 3.9%.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that December U.S. import prices showed no change from the previous month, after a decline of 0.9% in November.
Big banks kick off earnings season Both JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo reported earnings this morning, with the former delivering an earnings beat of $0.16 per share in the fourth quarter, despite the big bank's various legal settlements. The $1.40 per-share adjusted earnings topped the year-ago figure of $1.35 per share.
Though net income for all of 2013 came in at $17.9 bill...