JPMorgan again warns investors about “uncertain” year ahead. Big banks issue mixed profit reports

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase continued to warn investors Friday that it expects a “uncertain” year for markets and the global economy, citing stubbornly high inflation and ongoing geopolitical tensions.

The remarks came as JPMorgan — as well as its major competitors Citigroup and Wells Fargo — reported their first quarter results. JPMorgan had a modest 6% rise in the first quarter while Wells Fargo reported a decline in profit versus a year ago, although the result beat Wall Street’s expectations. Citigroup’s earnings also declined.

“Many economic indicators continue to be favorable. However, looking ahead, we remain alert to a number of significant uncertain forces,” JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said, citing the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as well as other geopolitical pressures, high amounts of government spending across the world and “persistent inflationary pressures.”

The comments from Dimon are similar to what he told investors in his annual shareholder letter earlier this week. In that letter, Dimon warned that geopolitical events including the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war, as well as U.S. political polarization, might be creating an environment that “may very well be creating risks that could eclipse anything since World War II.”

JPMorgan, the nation’s largest bank, earned a profit of $13.42 billion, or $4.44 a share, compared to a profit of $12.62 billion, or $4.10 a share, in the same period a year earlier. JPMorgan’s results were impacted by a $725 million one-time charge for an assessment by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

While the results did beat analysts’ forecasts, the bank’s stock fell more than 3% in premarket trading after JPMorgan gave a lower-than-expected forecast for its net interest income for the full year. That forecast largely reflects the bank’s expectation that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates later this year.

Most metrics of JPMorgan’s business were solid for the quarter. While investment banking revenues were largely flat, the bank reported an uptick in activity. In the consumer bank, profits rose 6% while the bank set aside less money to cover potentially bad loans.

Wells Fargo issued its first earnings report since the Biden administration eased some of the restrictions on the bank after a series of scandals.

Wells earned $4.6 billion in the first quarter, or $1.20 per share, beating analyst estimates of $1.06 per share. However, the profit was less than the $5 billion, or $1.23 per share, that Wells earned in the same period a year ago.

The San Francisco-based bank said average loans fell from last year’s first quarter but that drop-off was expected because of elevated interest rates.

In February, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, one of the regulators of big national banks like Wells Fargo, terminated a consent order that had been in place since September 2016. The order — which came after Wells’ employees were found to have opened millions of accounts illegally in order to meet unrealistic sales goals — required the bank to overhaul how it sold financial products to customers and provide additional consumer protections, as well as employee protections for whistleblowers.

Citigroup saw its profits drop 27% from a year earlier, as the bank continues to restructure itself after selling off much of its international franchises and continues to slim down after the pandemic.

Citi said it earned $3.37 billion, or $1.58 a share, compared with a profit of $4.6 billion, or $2.19 a share, a year earlier.

Wells shares fell slightly in premarket trading. Citigroup shares rose more than 1%.

Ken Sweet, The Associated Press