Bank of America's Uncomfortable Gray Space

Bank of America's Uncomfortable Gray Space

After three straight days of gains, Bank of America stock opened down today and has so far stayed down, an hour and a half into trading. Nervousness over what infinitely parseable nuggets may be found in last month's Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes is keeping B of A and the markets stuck in a gray space.

The never-ending meeting
The FOMC is the policy setting body of the Federal Reserve, where the central bank sets interest rates and decides how much money to pump into the economy, or how much not to -- and that's exactly what's making investors nervous right now.

Markets already know the Fed is set to taper quantitative easing as early as this year, as long as positive economic data keeps coming in. That announcement was made after the most recent FOMC meeting, held on June 19. But today at precisely 2 p.m., the actual minutes of the meeting are being released, and that's when the fun begins.

Foolish bottom line
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke already made his official statement based on the results of that meeting, explaining the central bank's thinking on QE in unusual depth, and there was an official policy statement released, as well. But these are the full-blown minutes of the meeting, and the media and investors just love pouring through all the minutia, using them to further pry into the minds of the country's central bankers.

So though the FOMC meeting was held weeks ago, resulting in plenty of repercussions, there could still be fresh ones.

Second-quarter earnings season is upon us, too, further stoking general anxiety. Alcoa was the first company to report, and while revenue and earnings met or beat expectations, the stock price still slumped. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo both report this Friday. Rising home mortgage rates will no doubt affect all of the big banks, but especially JPMorgan, Wells, and B of A, all big into that business -- though we likely won't see the full effects of that until the third quarter.

Rising interest rates will also affect bank balance sheets, and that we may see reflected in the second quarter. Bond prices move inversely to yields, so as interest rates have risen, bond prices have fallen, which banks must reflect on their balance sheets. Again, look for the current bond-market turmoil to affect all of the big banks, including B of A.

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Fool contributor John Grgurich owns shares of JPMorgan Chase. Follow John's dispatches from the not-so-muddy trenches of big-banking and high-finance on Twitter @TMFGrgurich. The Motley Fool recommends Bank of America and Wells Fargo. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a scintillating disclosure policy.

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