Ekonomi Islam & GlobalEnglishPilihan Editor

JPMorgan Chase Says US Economy Still Solid, But Risks Rising

JPMorgan Chase said the US economy remains on solid footing for the short-term, but warned of heightened longer-term risks due to inflation and the Ukraine war as its reported lower quarterly profits.

Executives from the giant bank said households and businesses generally remained in good shape, amid a tightening labor market.

But higher consumer prices, the Ukraine war and the shifts in Federal Reserve policy together have slightly raised the recession risk, which led the bank to set aside US$902 million (RM3.8 billion) in additional reserves as a buffer against possible bad loans.

“There’s this very strong underlying economy,” said Chief Executive Jamie Dimon, noting that many consumers are flush with cash and businesses in “good shape” for the most part.

“And those things are going to collide at one point, probably sometime next year,” he said.

“I’m not predicting a recession,” Dimon added in a conference call with reporters. “But is it possible? Absolutely.”

‘Wars are unpredictable’

The biggest US bank by assets, JPMorgan reported US$8.3 billion in first-quarter profits, down 42 per cent from the same three months of the prior year. Revenues dipped five per cent to US$30.7 billion.

JPMorgan scored higher net interest income, reflecting a boost to lending fees because of higher interest rates.

Profits fell in investment banking on lower equity and debt underwriting fees. The division also suffered a US$120 million hit tied to upheaval in the nickel market in March that pressured some commodity brokerages, company officials said.

The results contrasted sharply from a year ago, when JPMorgan saw surging profits after it unlocked US$5.2 billion in funds it had set aside early in the pandemic against potential defaults, but didn’t need because of the surprisingly solid condition of clients.

In the latest quarter, JPMorgan set aside US$902 million for bad loans, citing “downside risks” including the Ukraine war and surging inflation.

About US$300 million of that amount is connected to Russia-related exposures, with the remaining funds reflecting broader economic risks, executives said.

Charge offs for the first quarter came in at a relatively modest US$582 million, another sign of the healthy condition of consumers.

In terms of customer trends, Dimon cited an uptick in credit card spending on dining and travel, but said higher mortgage rates had dented home lending originations, while limited vehicle availability crimped car loan originations.

Dimon highlighted the Ukraine situation as a wildcard, warning that “wars are unpredictable” and the oil market could “change dramatically.”

“The oil markets are precarious,” he said, adding that “clouds are on the horizon.”

JPMorgan’s shares fell 3.5 per cent to US$126.90 in early trading.

Other large banks, including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America, will report results in coming days. — AFP

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