Stock Market News: Bank Earnings Send Wells Fargo Lower, Citi Higher

Earnings season is here again, and market participants have eagerly waited for signs of how corporate America performed during the key holiday quarter. Even with international geopolitical issues hanging over the market, investors want to see whether their generally favorable picture of how things are going with the U.S. economy matches up with reality for the companies on the front lines. As of 11 a.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) climbed 46 points to 28,953. However, the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) lost 5 points to 3,283, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) fell 26 points to 9,247.

Financial institutions typically lead off earnings season every quarter, and two banks gave different readings on the current state of the industry. Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) continued to struggle after years of controversy, but Citigroup (NYSE:C) was able to deliver stronger results that made shareholders more confident about its future.

All’s not well at Wells

Shares of Wells Fargo were down 4% after the San Francisco-based banking giant released its fourth-quarter financial results. For those hoping for a long-awaited turnaround, Wells Fargo’s report was just the latest in a series of disappointments.

Image source: Wells Fargo.

Wells saw its total revenue decline more than 5% to $19.9 billion, capping a year in which the bank’s top line eased lower from 2018 levels. Net income took an even bigger hit, falling by more than half to $2.9 billion and working out to $0.60 per share. Once again, legal issues weighed on performance, as Wells had to take $1.5 billion in litigation accruals on a variety of different matters.

CEO Charlie Scharf tried to maintain a positive attitude, noting his confidence that he’ll be able to restore the bank’s regulatory reputation through more urgent compliance efforts. Yet Scharf also noted that Wells’ cost structure is currently

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