Top Financial Stocks
Financial stocks were moderately higher in afternoon trading, with the NYSE Financial Sector Index rising almost 0.2%, while financial companies in the S&P 500 Index gained almost 0.4%. The Philadelphia Housing Sector Index was posting a more than 1.5% gain.
In economic news:
The U.S. current-account deficit increased by $26.7 billion during the final three month of 2017 to an as-expected $128.2 billion over a slightly revised $101.5 billion Q3 deficit, which benefited somewhat from $24.9 billion in hurricane-related insurance payments. As a percentage of gross domestic product, the Q4 deficit climbed to a still-moderate 2.6% from 2.1% during the previous quarter. The Q4 results include a big jump in the deficit for goods, reflecting rising imports of industrial supplies and consumer goods along with another drop in secondary income, reflecting a decrease in U.S. government transfers.
Existing home sales rose a larger-than-expected 3.0% over prior-month levels to a seasonally adjusted annualized 5.54 million sales pace, exceeding expert opinion expecting an annualized 5.42 million sales from January's 5.380 million total. On a year-over-year basis, existing home sales are up about 1.1%, reversing a 4.8% drop in January.
Also Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee this afternoon is expected to raise the target range for the Federal Funds rate to 1.50% to 1.75%. The FOMC announcement is due at 2 p.m. ET, followed by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's press conference starting at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Among financial stocks moving on news:
- Deutsche Bank AG ( DB ) shares opened at their lowest level since November 2016 in U.S. trade, dropping almost 5% to a session low of $15.74 a share, following a Bloomberg report warning Deutsche's corporate and investment banking unit faces a $368 million (EUR300 million) "headwind from the currency effect." The unit also is expecting around EUR150 million in increased funding costs, prompting its co-head to caution investors the ongoing turnaround likely will "not be a one-quarter journey [but] a several year journey."
In other sector news:
+ PPDAI Group ( PPDF ) turned higher in Wednesday trade, reversing a more than 4% retreat soon after the opening bell after the Chinese consumer lender reported that it swung to a Q4 net loss from a year-ago profit despite an 85% year-over-year increase in revenue. The company reported a net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders of RMB1.3 billion, or about $200.4 million, compared with a RMB17.9 million profit last year. Revenue rose to RMB912.1 million from RMB492.3 million. Analyst estimates were not available for comparison.
+ The Blackstone Group ( BX ) was narrowly higher Wednesday, retracing a portion of a nearly 1% mid-morning gain that followed a Bloomberg report that the firm and Thomson Reuters (TRI,TRI.TO) are considering either an initial public offering or a sale of their stake in the Tradeweb Markets bond-trading platform. The companies are valuing Tradeweb at more than $4 billion value, according to the Bloomberg report.