US bank earnings boosted by higher interest rates, lower taxes

JPMorgan Chase reported a jump in first-quarter earnings Friday, lifted by higher interest rates and revenue growth in core businesses
AFP

New York (AFP) – Large US banks led by JPMorgan Chase reported higher first-quarter earnings Friday, lifted by higher interest rates and a lower taxes following tax reform.

Shares of the banks were higher in pre-market trading, but fell soon after the market opened. JPMorgan and Citigroup were down about 0.5 percent and Wells Fargo dropped 1.4 percent.

JPMorgan Chase said net income jumped in the first quarter to $8.7 billion, 35.1 percent higher than the year-ago period. Revenues increased 10.3 percent to $28.5 billion. 

The biggest US bank by assets saw increases in all its major divisions due in large part to higher interest rates, which enabled JPMorgan to increase its profits from the spread between its deposits and loans.

At Citigroup, first-quarter earnings rose to $4.6 billion, up 13 percent from the year-ago period, while revenues were up 2.8 percent at $18.9 billion.

In corporate and investment banking, JPMorgan notched higher advisory fees, offsetting a drop in debt and equity underwriting fees.

Results also got a boost from the $240 million drop in income taxes following US tax reform, as well as the $170 million in reserves released that were connected to a single oil and gas company not specified in a news release.

However, JPMorgan’s commercial banking business experienced flat lending despite positive corporate sentiment. 

Chief financial officer Marianne Lake expects lending to pick up as more businesses take action following US tax reform.

“As much as we’re all eager, we have to recognize that tax reform is still in the early stages,” Lake said in a conference call with reporters. “But optimism continues to be very high.”

Citigroup pointed to broad growth in global consumer banking across regions and lower taxes. 

But investment banking revenues fell along with bond trading, although equity markets trading revenue saw a 38 percent surge amid higher stock market volatility.

“While market conditions have been uneven so far this year, our first quarter results show our ability to deliver for both clients and shareholders and we look forward to sustaining this momentum for the balance of the year,” said Citigroup chief executive Michael Corbat.

Wells Fargo reported a 5.7 percent increase in first-quarter results to $5.5 billion. However, revenues fell 1.4 percent to $21.9 billion at the troubled institution.

Regulators from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have proposed $1 billion in penalties over investigations of automobile insurance and mortgage practices, but Wells Fargo said the results did not include an estimate because “we are unable to predict final resolution” of the matter.

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