JPMorgan Chase & Co profit rises 5% in first quarter

Decision by Swiss central bank to end cap on franc spurred trading in currencies and bonds

JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest United States bank by assets, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit after a decision by the Swiss central bank to remove a cap on the franc shocked markets and spurred trading in currencies and bonds.

Bond-trading revenue has been under pressure across Wall Street in recent years, and it is unclear if increases in customer volume in the first quarter will persist.

Chief financial officer Marianne Lake told reporters volumes for the second quarter seemed to be a bit lower so far, although she added it is too soon to say for sure.

JPMorgan’s revenue from trading fixed income, currencies and commodities rose 5 per cent to $4.07 billion (€3.81 billion) in the first quarter.


The strong investment banking results helped boost JPMorgan’s shares by as much as 2.5 per cent to $63.61 yesterday morning, their highest since April 2000.

JPMorgan’s investment bank is the world’s biggest by revenue, according to research firm Coalition. Revenue from the business rose 8.4 per cent to $9.58 billion in the quarter.

But the unit has been under pressure to cut costs as clients have reduced trading since the financial crisis and regulators have demanded that big banks take fewer risks, hold more capital and improve controls.

JPMorgan was the first big US bank to report for the quarter, and the strong performance by its investment banking division bodes well for other banks with big trading businesses, such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. Goldman reports on Thursday and Morgan Stanley next Monday.

Goldman’s shares were up 0.7 per cent at $197.03 at midday, while Morgan Stanley’s were up 0.8 per cent at $36.61.

Profit at Wells Fargo & Co which also reported yesterday, fell as the bank faced higher compensation costs and pressure on the profitability of its loans. – (Reuters)