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UPDATE 2-JPMorgan profit surges nearly five-fold on reserve release boost

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Anirban Sen and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall
·2 min read
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(Recasts, adds details from statement)

By Anirban Sen and Elizabeth Dilts Marshall

April 14 (Reuters) - JPMorgan Chase & Co's earnings jumped almost 400% in the first quarter, blowing past estimates as the largest U.S. bank released more than $5 billion in reserves it had set aside to cover coronavirus-driven loan defaults.

The bank, widely seen as a barometer of the health of the broader U.S. economy, said consumer spending in its businesses had returned to pre-pandemic levels and was up 14% versus the first quarter of 2019.

The results, helped by favorable comparisons to last year, also gained from a 57% jump in investment banking revenue.

While the largest U.S. bank saw profits crimped last year with the economic effects of the pandemic, investors are optimistic that a recovery this year on the back of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package and widespread vaccinations could restore normalcy.

"We believe that the economy has the potential to have extremely robust, multi-year growth," Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said in a statement. "Our credit reserves of $26 billion are appropriate and prudent, all things considered."

The bank's net income rose to $14.3 billion, or $4.50 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $2.9 billion, or 78 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $3.10 per share, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue jumped 14% to $33.1 billion.

Investment banking revenue surged to $2.9 billion on record levels of capital markets activity, fueled largely by a surge in initial public offerings by special purpose acquisition companies.

Wall Street's boom has also been driven by record volumes of fundraising, debt refinancings, convertible bond deals and stock sales.

During the quarter, JPMorgan overtook investment banking powerhouse Morgan Stanley to become the banking world's second biggest provider of worldwide M&A advisory, according to Refinitiv. The league tables rank financial services firms by the amount of M&A fees they generate. Goldman Sachs continues to lead the rankings.

Global investment banking fees hit an all-time record during the March quarter, according to data from Refinitiv, and banks like JPMorgan made the most of the dealmaking boom.

JPMorgan's trading desks also trumped expectations, helped by the retail trading frenzy that has driven unprecedented rallies in "meme stocks" including GameStop since January.

Overall trading revenue rose 37% to $10.1 billion, with bond trading up 15%. Equity markets revenue jumped 47%.

Goldman is expected to report results later on Wednesday, followed by Wells Fargo. (Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bengaluru and Elizabeth Dilts in New York; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)