JPMorgan Chase scores record profit, lowers reserves for bad loans

JPMorgan Chase reported Friday a jump in fourth-quarter profits on strength in investment banking and some consumer lending businesses as it released some reserves taken earlier in the pandemic.

The biggest US bank by assets reported record quarterly profits of $12.1 billion, up 42.4 percent from the year-ago levels, while revenues rose 3.3 percent to 29.2 billion.

The profits included $1.9 billion in credit benefits, reflecting that the bank now expects fewer loan defaults compared with last year when coronavirus shutdowns prompted JPMorgan to set aside huge reserves in case of a much sharper economic downturn.

Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the reserve releases reflect positive vaccine and stimulus developments, but added that the bank still has $30 billion in credit reserves in case things take a turn for the worse.

These provisions “continue to reflect significant near-term economic uncertainty and will allow us to withstand an economic environment far worse than the current base forecasts by most economists,” Dimon said in a statement.

Although US unemployment levels remain elevated and some business sectors like commercial real estate and hospitality are in dire straits due to the pandemic, aggressive fiscal support measures from Washington have mitigated the effect on many households.

Some sectors, such as homebuilders and technology, are also seeing strong demand in the stay-at-home economy.

JPMorgan’s results showed some other bright spots, including a 34 percent jump in investment banking fees and an 18 percent rise in its trading division.

Dimon also pointed to gains of more than 20 percent in both its auto and retail mortgage originations. via Agence France-Presse

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