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While stock markets raced ahead in 2020, much of the underlying economy continued to struggle. Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank by assets, saw both those dynamics at play in its businesses. Profits dropped 35% to $17.9 billion as the bank put billions on the back burner in preparation for bad loans resulting from the national shutdown. Meanwhile BofA’s investment banking and sales and trading units posted impressive results amid a frenzy of investing activity. And as vaccine rollouts in the U.S. picked up in April, CEO Brian Moynihan struck a far more optimistic tone as the bank released some of those reserves. “What we see different now is…an accelerating recovery versus the economic uncertainty that we would have faced the last year at this time,” he told shareholders, promising an eventual return to the office likely in September.
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