Some banks feel the stress

Some results of stress tests designed to see how banks would fare if the economy worsens were leaked Wednesday. Wells Fargo & Co. in San Francisco is seen here.

WASHINGTON — Leaked results of the government's stress tests of 19 large U.S. banks are boosting investor confidence in the financial sector.

American Express Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. will not be asked to raise more capital when federal officials announce the test results this afternoon, but Regions Financial Corp. will need to bolster its reserves, according to people briefed on the results. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the results.

Citigroup Inc. will need to raise about $5 billion, according to a government source who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. Earlier news reports put that number closer to $10 billion.

Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. also will be asked to raise capital, sources said earlier this week.

The emerging news is bringing into focus a picture of the financial industry's strength that has had investors guessing for months.

The stress tests were designed to see how the large banks and finance companies would fare if the economy worsens. Analysts expect about half the companies will be asked to raise capital.

Spokesmen for New York-based American Express, JPMorgan and Bank of New York Mellon would not comment. A spokesman for Birmingham, Alabama-based Regions Financial could not be reached for comment.

Bank of America stock rose Wednesday after reports that the Charlotte-based company would need to raise $34 billion in additional capital. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported the figure.

The Journal cited unidentified people familiar with the situation, while the Times quoted a bank executive.

David Skidmore, spokesman for the Federal Reserve, declined comment on whether this constituted a violation of confidentiality policies pertaining to normal bank exams. A Treasury spokesman did not return requests for comment.

The stress tests are a centerpiece of the Obama administration's plan to stabilize the financial industry. They measure how much the banks would be hurt if unemployment rose to 10.3 percent and home prices dropped an additional 22 percent.

The government wants the firms to have enough money to keep lending even if the economy gets much worse. Officials have said none of the banks will be allowed to fold.

Shares of Bank of America rose $1.77, or 16.3 percent, to $12.61 in afternoon trading. Bank of New York Mellon shares added $2.97, or 10.8 percent, to $30.38, and American Express gained $1.22, or 4.6 percent, to $27.79.