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Trading rebound boosts JP Morgan, Citi

Nothing like a profit home run from JPMorgan Chase to get the fourth-quarter corporate reporting season going.


America's biggest bank announced its largest-ever annual quarterly profit.


So how did the bank do it? Better-than-expected quarterly results were largely fueled by a positive swing in fixed income trading in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to the same time the year before when bond trading was hammered by U.S.-China trade war fears.


Equity trading and lending outside of the mortgage business were also bright spots last quarter, which should put to rest concerns about the lingering trade war and slower global economic growth.


Consumer banking, however, was a weak spot as low interest rates hurt the amount of money the bank could pocket from holding consumer deposits.


Citigroup did better when it comes to consumers. Profits were were up due in part to a double-digit jump in credit card revenues. Citi's better-than-expected results were also boosted by trading, but the gain there was no where as robust as what JPMorgan saw.


Rounding out the big banks: the dark cloud has yet to lift from Wells Fargo. The fallout from a 2016 sales scandal forced the bank to set aside another $1.5 billion for legal expenses. Profits came in way below analysts forecasts.