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Why now is the time to buy bank stocks

There are no Great Expectations for bank earnings next week.

Citigroup (C), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Goldman Sachs (GS) and Wells Fargo (WFC) will kick off the second-quarter earnings season with reports out Monday and Tuesday.

A combination of weak trading volume and low interest rates have caused many analysts to lower their Q2 estimates for the biggest U.S. banks.

According to Refinitiv, revenue growth expectations have dropped to 1.6% from 3.4%, while earnings growth for the S&P 500 bank index is at 11%, down from 14.4%.

Bullish on banks

Still, Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Group, is bullish on the sector and thinks now is the time to buy.

“I don’t really expect the earnings to be that good, but going forward I think it’s going to get better here,” Paulsen said on Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.”

Paulsen expects a steepening yield curve to help the bank’s net interest margins and believes the U.S. Treasury’s yield curve will steepen even further if Fed rate cuts improve economic growth.

“I really think the economy is going to pickup in the second half, revive a bit, and actually we’re going to have rising yields in the second half, which also should help the financials,” Paulsen says.

He points to a recent pickup in loan growth and robust merger and acquisition activity as further positives for the banks.

“I think [bank stocks] are a good relative value, that also might come into a good cyclical environment in the second half of the year,” he said.

You can be sure investors will be looking for signs from bank executives that they can continue to grow their bottomline.

Alexis Christoforous is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.” Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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