What happened

Bank of America (BAC -0.49%) shareholders trailed the market last month as the stock shed 13% versus a 9% drop in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The move capped a tough year for the banking giant, with the stock losing 17% in 2018 to trail the market's 6% drop.

A bank teller helps a customer.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Like its peer financial giants, Bank of America was hit especially hard in December by a spike in investor concerns about a potential global growth slowdown. Such a downturn, if it happens, would hurt banking businesses directly and immediately as demand for loans declines, to name just one example.

Beyond that bigger-picture worry, Bank of America shareholders have been underwhelmed by the gains that tax reform, deregulation, and higher interest rates have delivered to the business in recent quarters.

Now what

Fortunately, investors won't have to wait long for more clarity on economic growth. All of the major financial giants are set to post fourth-quarter earnings reports in the coming weeks, with Bank of America scheduled before the market opens on Wednesday, Jan. 16.

CEO Brian Moynihan and his team will likely discuss the bank's improving efficiency picture, but Wall Street will be most interested in learning what loan-balance trends and interest income levels are telling executives about the health of the global economy heading into 2019.

Check out the latest Bank of America earnings call transcript.