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JPMorgan Q2 profit drops; CEO warns of economic challenges

NEW YORK (AP) – Profits at JPMorgan Chase fell by 28 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) as the bank tries to navigate an economy that’s showing strength in many areas but losing steam as interest rates continue to rise, hitting consumers and corporations alike.

The nation’s largest bank by assets said on Thursday that it earned a profit of USD8.65 billion, or USD2.76 per share in the three months ended in June. That compares to a profit of USD11.95 billion, or USD3.78 per share, in the same period a year ago. Last year’s profits were boosted by a one-time release of loan-loss reserves, or funds the bank set aside to cover potentially bad loans during the pandemic.

The economy still looks to be in good shape, JPMorgan executives said, but the question is where it’s headed. Earlier this summer, CEO Jamie Dimon had warned a “hurricane” may be heading for the economy given the Federal Reserve’s actions to fight inflation, the war in Ukraine and other challenges.

“I haven’t changed my view at all,” Dimon said on Thursday in a conference call with journalists. “The negatives I pointed out, the risks in the future, are still the same risks.

They’re nearer than they were before.”

Dimon said he did not want to put a probability on the likelihood of a severe downturn, but “we’re going to be prepared for it and serve our clients”.

The New York bank added to its loan-loss reserves last quarter in the event of a recession or other calamitous event, setting aside USD428 million to cover defaults. JPMorgan is also suspending its share repurchase programme to conserve capital.

Chase Bank ATMs in New York. PHOTO: AP

JPMorgan’s results came in below Wall Street’s expectations. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting the bank to earn a profit of USD2.89 a share. The company’s stock fell 3.5 per cent to close at USD108 and was one of the heaviest weights pulling the S&P 500 downward.

Investment banking revenue fell about 60 per cent as companies made fewer deals, but markets revenue rose 15 per cent on strong performances in both stocks and bonds trading.

Consumer banking income was USD3.1 billion, down by 45 per cent from last year’s period, reflecting the absence of the credit reserve release from last year.

Bank stocks have been hit hard this year as investors have worried about the Federal Reserve putting the United States (US) economy into recession to combat inflation. A recession would mean some Americans would lose jobs, and likely start falling behind on their loans. These fears have more than offset the higher revenues that banks have earned from higher interest rates.

JPMorgan shares are down 31.8 per cent for the year so far, while the KBW Bank Index is down 25.6 per cent.

Total revenue at the bank was USD30.7 billion in the second quarter, compared to USD30.5 billion in the same period a year earlier.

JPMorgan executives said the high inflation sweeping the world is affecting customers, who are spending more on gasoline and other essentials. But, for the moment at least, customers have not pulled back on their spending for travel, dining and other non-essentials. At the same time, CEOs at businesses are saying conditions are pretty good, Dimon said.

“We looked a lot, very carefully into our actual data, our actual results from this quarter,” CFO Jeremy Barnum said in the conference call with reporters. “There’s essentially no evidence of actual weakness.

“The question is about the outlook,” Barnum said, “and we’ve talked about that a lot”.