Bank stocks increase, but not to pre-recession levels

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For the first time in several years, bank stocks rose across the board last year. Stock prices also rose at the three national banks that operate in the Pikes Peak region: Wells Fargo and Co.,

U. S. Bancorp, and JPMorgan Chase and Co.

Wells Fargo and Co.’s stock stood at $31.65 per share earlier this week, up from a low of $8.89 in February 2009. The latest one-year return for its stock was 15.85 percent, according to DailyFinance.com.

U.S. Bancorp’s stock was $26.76 per share. That’s up from a low of $8.06 in March 2009. The one-year return on its shares: 16.96 percent.

Also following the national trend, JPMorgan Chase shares increased to $44.16, up from a low of $14.96 in March 2009. The latest one-year return was 3.06 percent.

That’s the good news. Many analysts, however, say bank stocks aren’t likely to return to pre-recession levels for several reasons. Unemployment remains high, and regulatory pressure and new laws will slow the growth of bank profit margins.

Bank deposits

Interest rates on deposits are expected to remain low this year, according to the latest Deposit Trends and Projection for 2011 report, by Market Rates Insight. That’s largely because the near-term Federal Funds target rate — the overnight rate at which banks lend money to one another — is expected to remain level. These days, that rate still hovers near zero.

Historically, deposit rates follow fluctuations in the Fed Funds rate, which rises when inflation increases and vice versa.

After the prior recession in 2000, the inflation rate increased from 1 percent in June 2002 to 3.02 percent in March 2003. The Fed funds rate, however, did not rise for some time, causing deposit rates to remain low.

Analysts expect that consumers will remain cautious, keeping their money in CDs, money market and other accounts that are protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Furthermore, because the Bush-era tax cuts were extended this will likely increase deposits as there is a strong correlation between higher disposable personal income and an increase in savings’ rates.

No Jan. 1 tax hike

The Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2010 did away with worries of a New Year’s Day tax hike.

Here’s a round-up, from the experts at Clifton Gunderson, of some of the key points that will help keep more dollars in your pocket.

Individual income tax rates remain unchanged for two more years: The so-called Bush-era tax cuts will remain unchanged until Dec. 31, 2012, meaning individual income tax rates range from 10 percent to 35 percent for 2011 and 2012, rather than the 15 percent to 39.6 percent rates that would have automatically taken effect at the end of 2010.

Capital gains and dividend rates stay the course: Tax rates on capital gains and qualified dividends were set to increase to 20 percent starting this year. Rates will continue at 15 percent (or 0 percent for taxpayers in the lowest income brackets).

Estate tax is not as high as feared: Under the new law, the maximum estate tax rate will be 35 percent, with a $5 million exclusion. If a new tax hadn’t been passed, a rate of 55 percent and exclusion level of just $1 million would have taken effect.

Bonus depreciation jumps to 100 percent: Qualified investments made this year will have a 100 percent bonus depreciation compared to 50 percent that was already in place. In 2012, the 50 percent bonus depreciation will return.

The Research and Development tax credit returns: Initially allowed to expire at the end of 2009, the R&D credit is retroactive for 2010 expenses, and extends through this year.

Founded in 1960, Clifton Gunderson is one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and consulting firms. The firm operates an office in downtown Colorado Springs.

Venture capital update

Venture capitalists predict that in 2011, venture firms will invest more and CEOs of venture-backed companies will hire more, sell more and get paid more, according to the National Venture Capital Association and Dow Jones VentureSource “Venture View” survey.

The annual survey was based on responses from more than 330 venture capitalists in the U.S. and 180 CEOs of U.S.-based venture-backed companies. The survey was conducted between Nov. 29 and Dec. 10.

While optimism about the venture industry and the national economy prevailed, venture capitalists were divided on how fundraising will trend this year.

More than half expect venture capital investment to increase, while 24 percent expect investment to remain the same, and another 24 percent expect investment to decrease.

Two-thirds of venture capitalists and 44 percent of CEOs expect that more venture-backed companies will go public, while 81 percent of VCs and 82 percent of CEOs expect more acquisitions in 2011.

The Rocky Mountain region was cited by 16 percent of venture capitalists as an area outside New York, Silicon Valley or New England that is poised for growth this year.

Rebecca Tonn can be reached at rebecca.tonn@csbj.com or 719-329-5229. Friend her on Facebook.