Why It Matters
Wells Fargo is one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, and analysts are watching its results for signs of economic stress. The bank’s sour loans in its commercial business grew, but its consumer business remained fairly stable, with a slight increase in credit card defaults offset by a drop in losses on auto loans.
The U.S. economy “continues to perform better than many expected,” said Charles W. Scharf, the bank’s chief executive, but “there is likely to be a continued economic slowdown.” The bank’s shares rose 4 percent in premarket trading.
Commercial real estate, particularly loans for office space, is a pain point, and the bank has set aside nearly $1 billion more for losses. Its deposits – a measure that has come under scrutiny this year as customers seek higher returns on their savings – fell slightly from the last quarter.
Business deposits have stabilized, while on the consumer side, “what’s causing the decline is, for the most part, people are spending their money,” said Michael P. Santomassimo, the bank’s chief financial officer.
Wells Fargo continues to operate under growth restrictions imposed in 2018 by the Federal Reserve in response to the bank’s high-profile misdeeds, including creating fake customer accounts and mishandling customers for auto and home loans. The bank expects that penalty to remain in place at least through the next year.
Like the other big banks, Wells Fargo continues to prepare for a recession — but is yet to see one. “Overall, I think things are working pretty well,” Mr. Santomassimo said, thanks in part to “a really strong employment picture..”
More big banks report quarterly earnings next week, including Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.