The largest US banks would withstand a severe recession and still be able to lend to US households and businesses, the Federal Reserve has said. 

The results of the Fed's so-called stress tests showed 34 major lenders were on a solid capital footing, it said.

"This year's results show that, even during a severe recession, our large banks would remain well capitalised," Fed Governor Jerome Powell said in a statement. 

"This would allow them to lend throughout the economic cycle, and support households and businesses when times are tough," he added. 

The results portrayed a picture of increasing resilience in the banking sector, with the 34 participating firms having added $750 billion in common equity capital since 2009. 

The most severe hypothetical scenario imposed by the Fed supposed a global economic downturn even worse than the recent Great Recession. 

US unemployment would rise to 10%, accompanied by a 35% drop in commercial property prices and pressures on corporate loan markets as well. 

In this scenario, loan losses would amount to $383 billion over nine quarters. The ratio of capital, which allows lenders to absorb losses, to risk-weighted assets would drop from 12.5% to 9.2%. 

The tested banks included Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Chase and the Deutsche Bank Trust Corp, a US unit of the troubled German financial giant. 

The participating banks represent more than 75% of the assets of all domestic bank holding companies, according to the Fed. 

In the second step of the annual stress tests, next week the capital strengths of the individual banks will be weighed against their capital plans.

These tests will examine whether they would remain adequately strong after planned dividend distributions and share buybacks. 

In the past, some banks have been forced to reel back those plans in order to further build capital strength. 

The results also presented the outcome of a less severe "adverse" scenario in which participants' capital ratios only fell to 10.7%. 

The stress tests are conducted under the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform laws, which Congress enacted in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, which President Donald Trump's administration has vowed to scale back.  

Powell said this week the Fed would be open to reasonable changes to the law, including the threshold for including banks in the stress tests.