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Bank of America is psyched about rising interest rates

Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan is excited about the prospect for higher interest rates.

“With strong leadership positions in our businesses against a backdrop of rising interest rates, we are well-positioned to continue to grow and deliver for our shareholders in 2017,” Moynihan said in the bank’s Q4 earnings announcement statement.

Traditionally, banks make money by “borrowing short and lending long.” That’s an informal way of saying that banks lend money at long-term interest rates, which tend to be high, and borrow money from depositors at short-term rates, which tend to be low. In a rising interest rate environment, this spread between these rates, also known as the net interest margin, tends to expand.

Brian Moynihan (Reuters/ Joshua Roberts)

However, the interest rates have only recently begun to rise, which means these profits will become more material in the quarters ahead.

“While the recent rise in interest rates came too late to impact fourth-quarter results, we expect to see a significant increase in net interest income in the first quarter of 2017,” CFO Paul Donofrio said.

Bank of America thinks the future for net interest margins is bright.

During the fourth quarter, Bank of America’s net interest income climbed 6.3% to $10.3 billion. The net interest margin was 2.23%, which was unchanged for most of 2016.

In aggregate, Bank of America beat analysts’ estimates for its fourth quarter earnings, but missed on revenue expectations. The bank reported a net income of $4.7 billion, posting adjusted EPS of 40 cents compared to analysts’ estimates of 38 cents. Meanwhile, revenue fell just below expectations, coming in at $20 billion compared to analysts’ estimates of $20.76 billion

Trading revenue, excluding debt-valuation adjustments, was up 11% to $2.9 billion, the second-highest fourth quarter in five years, the bank noted.

Revenue from FICC trading came in at $1.96 billion compared to estimates of $2.12 billion, while equities trading revenue finished at $948 million versus estimates of $943.7 million. Equities trading benefited from increased market activity following the US election.

“We had strong results in 2016 because our strategy is working. We are lending more and seeing historically low charge-offs, which is what responsible growth is all about. Revenue was up modestly, but EPS grew by 15% as we continued to manage our expenses and create operating leverage,” Moynihan said in a statement.

Shares of Bank of America were slightly higher in the pre-market.

JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo are set to report fourth quarter results at 8 a.m. ET.


Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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