In its quest to find just the right time to raise interest rates, the Fed seems to have discovered a third mandate: creating a perfect world. » Read More
A year that had been looking pretty bleak for the stock market suddenly appears to be turning a corner.
Since the Feb. 11 low, the S&P 500 has gained about 14 percent, thanks to strong performance from materials and energy stocks. However, other sectors are starting to catch up to give the rally more balance, and that has triggered an important signal that historically has portended for even stronger gains.
Last week, for the first time since September 2014, all 10 S&P 500 sectors were above their 200-day moving averages. Financials, which remain negative for the year but have gained more than 12 percent over the past three months, were the last group to cross over.
Going through such a long period of running below the trend line is unusual, as is having the entire index move above it after being below for more than a year. However, in three of the four instances since 1993 when each sector had cleared the 200-day average, it was a "profoundly bullish" market sign, according to Bespoke Investment Group.
Wall Street's biggest banks have at least one thing to be thankful for in 2016.
The trend of smaller, private banks, also known as boutiques, gobbling up more and more revenue from mega-transactions finally may be reversing.
About one-third of the way into 2016, the percentage of cash earned on mergers and acquisitions by boutique banks is down to 17.6 percent, from an all-time high of 19 percent last year, according to Dealogic data. Boutique banks' share of deals was as little as 8 percent in 2008, and has shot up in the years following the global financial crisis.
So far in 2016, the boutique banks leading the way on M&A revenue are Centerview Partners, Evercore Partners and Moelis & Co., according to Dealogic. But those banks are leading in a year where there's a lot less to be made on fewer M&A transactions. None of the banks commented after being contacted by CNBC.com.
Goldman Sachs has gone through a "lost decade" and needs to reconsider its strategy, one Wall Street analyst thinks.
"It is not difficult to understand what happened to Goldman Sachs in the past decade. The industry it services was dramatically restructured. The company was not," Dick Bove, vice president of equity research at Rafferty Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients. "The company needs to rethink its strategy and consider transformational changes in every aspect of its operations."
Bove's report was titled "The Lost Decade," looking into the bank's struggle in a rapidly reforming financial services industry, in which he criticized Goldman Sachs' leadership and executive pay structure.
Bove's comments follow a first-quarter earnings report from Goldman that topped expectations, but missed on revenue as income from trading businesses plummeted.
The bank did not respond to a request for comment on Bove's report.
Wednesday's Fed meeting likely will come down to two words, and "rates" won't be one of them.
Practically no one expects the Federal Open Market Committee — the central bank's monetary policymaking arm — to raise its key interest rate target when the panel releases its post-meeting statement Wednesday.
Instead, Wall Street's eyes will be trained firmly on how FOMC officials see economic growth progressing.
In that light, the words Fed-watchers should be focused on most are "nearly balanced."
That assessment, or slight variations thereof, has become a staple of post-meeting statements since 2000.
The biggest firms on Wall Street have first quarter profit reports on the books, and it's unanimous: Investment banking earnings were terrible to start the year.
Goldman Sachs made it official. All Wall Street banks saw double-digit drops in revenue from mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings and debt underwriting.
JPMorgan Chase led Wall Street with revenue from M&A, at $564 million, followed by Goldman Sachs at $512 million and Morgan Stanley at $465 million, according to financial services data firm Dealogic. No other investment bank generated more than $300 million in revenue from M&A, according to the report.
The IPO drought to begin the year was also painful for investment banks, which saw bigger year-over-year percentage losses in equity underwriting.
"Volatility kept issuers on the sidelines," JPMorgan Chase CFO Marianne Lake said on the bank's earnings call last week.
Pay on Wall Street is falling as fast as big banks' profits and revenues for the first quarter.
Goldman Sachs cut pay 40 percent year over year, the bank revealed on its first-quarter earnings call Tuesday. Compensation went from $4.45 billion in the first quarter of 2015 to $2.66 billion in the first quarter of this year. The upside is that staff was only reduced by 1 percent over the same time frame.
The bank suffered a 23 percent drop in investment banking revenue in the first quarter. Fixed income trading revenue fell 47 percent to $1.66 billion and equities trading declined 23 percent as well, generating $1.78 billion. It translates into Goldman's lowest revenue tally since late 2011.
"This is a performance-driven culture and our performance wasn't great" in the first quarter, Goldman CFO Harvey Schwartz said to an analyst. He added later, "I certainly won't sit here and tell you we're happy about this quarter."
Fixed income, currencies and commodities trading declines hit Wall Street hard in a volatile first quarter.
Goldman Sachs reported first-quarter earnings Tuesday morning that while crossing a low bar also saw a 47 percent year-over-year drop in fixed income, currencies and commodities, or FICC, to $1.66 billion. It was part of a report that showed revenue growth tumbling 40 percent, from $10.62 billion from the year-ago period to $6.34 billion in the first three months of 2016.
With growing uncertainty on the horizon in the second quarter, the FICC struggle could continue. In part thanks to more central banks embracing negative interest rates, S&P Global Markets Intelligence equity analyst Kenneth Leon said more FICC pain could continue on Wall Street in 2016.
"If there were an area to come back, it would be equities trading first," he said.
For the past six years, companies have helped fuel the bull market by repurchasing trillions of their own shares.
But if the market rally is to continue, investors may have to find another sugar daddy.
Buybacks are on the retreat in 2016, hitting a 21-month low in March and not showing much pop in April either, according to market data analytics firm TrimTabs. March repurchases amounted to just $24.1 billion and are at a measly $3.2 billion in April, TrimTabs reported over the weekend.
That slowdown has come after a period since 2010 when companies bought back more than $2.7 trillion of their own shares as the market rallied more than 200 percent off its recession lows.
The banking business is heading to the smartphone at a growing pace, and Wall Street firms are fighting off a swell of financial technology start-ups targeting digital consumers.
The pace of change continues to accelerate, according to more than 90 percent of executives surveyed for a banking report prepared by financial consultant Capgemini and nonprofit Efma and released Monday.
It's showing up in their earnings as well.
The stocks of companies that have women as board directors or lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender employees in senior roles outperform the ones that do not, according to a recent report.
It's the new portfolio diversification, Credit Suisse, the report's publisher, is arguing.
The bank took 270 companies with openly LGBT staff as leaders or senior managers and compared their performance to a stock index tracking North America, Europe and Australia, because most of the LGBT companies Credit Suisse could identify were in one of these three regions.
"Having the policies is not enough," said Stefano Natella, Credit Suisse's global head of research, who co-wrote the report. "You have to want the culture."
Stocks head into the last day of April in a cranky mood, but May might not be the time for a shakeout.
Apple fell more than 2.5 percent after activist investor Carl Icahn said he sold his stake in the company.
In its quest to find the right time to raise rates, the Fed has discovered a third mandate: creating a perfect world.