JPMorgan Chase profit falls, but sees hope in economy

NEW YORK ― JPMorgan Chase & Co’s. fourth-quarter earnings fell 23 percent, in line with Wall Street expectations, as the European debt crisis depressed trading and corporate deal-making.

But Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the largest U.S. bank by assets was seeing signs of improvement in loan demand and credit quality as the economy recovers.

The bank’s shares fell 2.9 percent in premarket trading. Through Thursday, the shares had climbed 11 percent this year.

JPMorgan is the first major U.S. bank to announce results for the period. Its figures show Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley are in for a tough quarter as investment banking results suffer.

Others such as Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc, which also report results in the coming days, could benefit from the stronger business loan demand that JPMorgan experienced, but they continue to face problems in investment banking and housing loans.

JPMorgan’s results “show that there are major headwinds against the banking industry and it requires a strong management team to battle the headwinds,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm Libertyview Capital Management in New York.