Trading slowdown hits the brake on JPMorgan’s results

A sign of JP Morgan Chase Bank is seen in front of their headquarters tower in Manhattan, New York, November 13, 2017. — Reuters pic
A sign of JP Morgan Chase Bank is seen in front of their headquarters tower in Manhattan, New York, November 13, 2017. — Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, July 13 — JPMorgan Chase & Co reported a 155 per cent jump in profit today thanks to the release of loss reserves and a surge in dealmaking, even as the largest US bank suffered from a well-flagged slowdown from last year’s record-breaking trading results.

The bank’s shares fell 1.5 per cent as overall corporate and investment banking revenues declined 19 per cent, mainly due to a slump in bond trading.

The Wall Street behemoth, whose fortunes tend to reflect the health of the US economy, released roughly US$3 billion (RM12.5 billion) from the reserves it had set aside in anticipation of a wave of pandemic-related loan defaults.

As pandemic restrictions ease and the economy normalizes, the unprecedented volatility in financial markets that boosted revenues at the bank’s trading outfit last year is also expected to drop. Analysts have pointed out that the levels of trading activity witnessed last year were unsustainable.

Overall trading revenue slumped 28 per cent to US$8.1 billion, hurt mainly by weakness in bond trading, which was down 44 per cent from last year. Equity markets was a bright spot, with revenue up 13 per cent.

The bank’s net income rose to US$11.9 billion, or US$3.78 per share, in the quarter ended June 30, from US$4.7 billion, or US$1.38 per share, a year earlier. However, overall revenue fell 7 per cent to US$31.4 billion.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of US$3.21 per share, according to Refinitiv.

“This quarter we once again benefited from a significant reserve release as the environment continues to improve, but as we have said before, we do not consider these core or recurring profits,” said JPMorgan Chief Executive Jamie Dimon.

Excluding the boost from reserve releases, JPMorgan’s net quarterly profit came in at US$9.6 billion.

Last year, banks were forced to set aside billions for possible loan defaults. But accommodative monetary policy and stimulus checks kept the American consumer healthier than initially feared, allowing banks release more of their reserve capital.

Widespread vaccinations have led large parts of the United States to ease pandemic restrictions, setting the stage for a broader economic recovery.

Despite the trading slump, overall Wall Street banking remained strong during the first half of the year, on the back of a record volume of large deals.

Capital markets also remained active and a surge in IPOs more than made up for a slowdown in deals made through special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs).

While average loans in JPMorgan’s consumer & community banking unit were down 12 per cent, there were signs that spending was bouncing back. Combined debt and credit card spend was up 22 per cent in the quarter compared to the same period in 2019, which is considered more reflective of normal spending patterns than last year’s quarter.

Goldman Sachs, Wall Street’s premier investment bank, will report results later today. — Reuters

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