What Will Happen on Wall Street Today?

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Today, all eyes turn to Bank of America (NYS: BAC) .

America's second-largest bank by assets will report the results of its fourth-quarter earnings. Analysts forecast that the bank will make $0.16 per share in earnings, up from $0.04 in the same quarter last year.

We'll probably see results from BofA similar to what we saw from Citigroup (NYS: C) , Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase -- poor investment banking and trading results. Investors are skittish about Europe these days, after all.

But what we don't yet know is whether BofA, which has been shedding assets, will be able to hang on to its revenue. Strong loan growth comprised the bright side of Citi and JPMorgan's earnings, as well as more commercially focused banks like Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, and PNC.

Over the coming quarters, Bank of America's earnings will hinge on how much it will have to provision for foreclosure-related settlements. Along with other mortgage servicers, the bank is accused of improper foreclosures and faulty contracts. There are reports that a settlement is near, but anything's possible -- the same thing has been said every few weeks for the past couple of years.

Morgan Stanley (NYS: MS) and American Express (NYS: AXP) will also announce their earnings today. We can expect lots of pain for Morgan Stanley, since it doesn't have major commercial-banking operations, whereas analysts expect slight earnings growth for AmEx.

Other Dow (INDEX: ^DJI) components reporting today include IBM, Intel, and Microsoft.

Complex megabanks aren't for everyone. If you're looking for a few safer names that stand to benefit from the increasing strength in commercial banking, I'll point you to my colleague Anand Chokkavelu's top banking picks. He details them in our brand-new free report: "The Stocks Only the Smartest Investors Are Buying." I invite you to grab a free copy.

At the time this article was published Ilan Moscovitzowns shares of US Bancorp. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, IBM, and Intel.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Goldman Sachs, Intel, and Microsoft.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a write covered strangle position in American Express and creating bull call spread positions in Intel and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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