NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase, the country's biggest bank, reported a record quarterly profit Friday, helped by a surge in mortgage refinancing. CEO Jamie Dimon said he believed the housing market "has turned a corner."
The bank made $5.3 billion from July through September, up 36 percent from the same period a year ago. It worked out to $1.40 per share, easily outpacing the $1.21 predicted by analysts polled by FactSet, a provider of financial data.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $25.9 billion, beating expectations of $24.4 billion. Earnings were also helped because the bank set aside less money for bad loans — $1.8 billion, down 26 percent from a year ago.
Revenue from mortgage loans shot up 29 percent. About three-quarters of that was from people refinancing, rather than buying new homes. Low interest rates and government help encouraged homeowners to refinance.
The bank gave few details on the surprise $6 billion trading loss that dominated its previous earnings report. It did mention that a credit portfolio moved to the investment bank from the chief investment office, which was responsible for the bad trade, "experienced a modest loss."
The bank set aside an extra $684 million for legal expenses. Chief financial officer Doug Braunstein said the reserves were related to "a variety of issues," and not just a lawsuit filed last week by the New York attorney general over mortgage-backed securities sold by Bear Stearns. JPMorgan bought Bear Stearns as it veered toward collapse in 2008.
Dimon said he couldn't predict how much the bank would have to spend in the future.
JPMorgan's investment banking unit earned more in fees for underwriting stock offerings and debt offerings, which could signal that wary companies and investors are more willing to get back into the market.
Debit card revenue fell, which the bank attributed to new rules crimping the fees that banks charge stores whenever customers pay via debit card.
The bank's revenue was slightly lower, $25.1 billion, when adjusted for a controversial accounting rule that penalizes banks when the bonds they issue to investors look safer and rise in value.
The theory behind the rule, in place since 2007, is that it would cost banks more to buy those bonds back from investors. The rule has been sharply criticized by the banking industry, including by Dimon, and could be phased out as early as next year.