JP Morgan Feels Market Volatility Despite Record Q4 Profit

January 15, 2019, 4:45 PM UTC
JP Morgan
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JP Morgan Chase became the latest Wall Street bank to report the damage of December’s volatile market conditions, disclosing a decline in revenues and profits in its investment banking business driven by a weaker fixed income markets sector.

The nation’s largest bank still reported largely positive results overall, with total net revenue up 4% year-on-year in the fourth quarter, to $26.8 billion, and a 67% hike in quarterly net profits, to nearly $7.1 billion. JP Morgan noted that the $7.1 billion profit represented a record for the fourth quarter, as did its full-year 2018 net profit of $32.5 billion.

But as Citigroup reported in its own quarterly earnings Monday, JP Morgan cited market volatility that contributed to an 18% percent decline to fixed income revenues on an adjusted basis. That contributed to a 15% drop in total net income across its corporate and investment banking sector in the fourth quarter, on revenues that were 4% lower year-on-year.

On the bank’s earnings call Tuesday morning, CFO Marianne Lake noted the effect that challenging market conditions had on the results. But she pointed to the “calmer and more positive” sentiment that has surrounded the markets’ start of the year while expressing her confidence in the economy moving forward. “We think the outlook for growth in the economy is strong,” Lake said, predicting continuing global growth albeit at a “maybe slower” pace.

And given a “slightly more progressive outlook” on trade talks between the U.S. and China, as well as a “dovish outlook” from the Federal Reserve that could see the central bank pause on further interest rates in the first half of the year, Lake added that “so far, things just feel a little more positive.”

Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon said that he is “totally happy” with the bank’s fourth quarter performance—noting that JP Morgan is “not immune from the weather” and that he “honestly could care less” about the negative impact that “the last three weeks of December” had on the company’s bottom line.

Dimon also urged government leaders to take action on a trade deal with China as well as immigration reform, echoing comments in the bank’s earnings release in which he called for “our country’s leaders to strike a collaborative, constructive tone, which would reinforce already-strong consumer and business sentiment.”

JP Morgan’ stock dipped upon the opening bell Tuesday morning, and as of 11:15 a.m. was down roughly 1% from the previous day’s close, to just under $100 per share.

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