Sector Wrap: Large-cap banking stocks

Analyst expects stronger business for banks in 2014 as US economy improves; raises targets

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Morgan Stanley analyst on Wednesday raised her price targets on more than a dozen large-cap banking stocks Wednesday, saying she expects business will get better in 2014 as the U.S. economy gains strength.

Analyst Betsy Graseck said she has a positive outlook on the banks because she expects solid economic growth along with better employment. She said that will bring about improved growth in consumer loans, better margins, lower charge-offs, and reduced expenses.

Graseck raised her price targets on 13 of the 16 large-cap banks she covers. She also upgraded BB&T Corp. shares to "Overweight" from "Equal-weight," lifting her price target to $40 per share from $39. Graseck also has an "Overweight" rating on Bank of America Corp., Regions Financial Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Citigroup Inc. She raised her price targets for the latter two stocks, and said Bank of America, Citigroup, and JPMorgan are her top picks in the sector.

She downgraded shares of SunTrust Banks Inc. to "Equal-weight" from "Overweight."

Bank of America shares rose 10 cents to $15.63, while Regions Financial shares added 12 cents to $9.67. Shares of JPMorgan Chase gained 33 cents to $57.19 and Citigroup stock slipped 9 cents to $52.04, while BB&T shares advanced 51 cents to $34.80.

Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. picked up 2 cents to $43.75, while Discover Financial Services gained 30 cents to $52.11, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. edged up 65 cents to $168.70, and Northern Trust Corp. shares declined 17 cents to $57.87, and SunTrust shares lost 34 cents to $35.09.

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