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JPMorgan earnings jump 33 percent in quarter

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said the bank is seeing signs the economy is getting stronger.

J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press/File 2012

JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said the bank is seeing signs the economy is getting stronger.

NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank, reported a 33 percent rise in first-quarter earnings Friday, bolstered by gains in the investment banking business and a surge in mortgage lending.

“All our businesses had strong performance, and our client franchises did exceptionally well,’’ Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive, said in a statement.

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As the economy recovers slowly, demand for loans remained stagnant. JPMorgan said total loans at the bank fell 1 percent. Yet gains from investment banking allowed JPMorgan to record 12 consecutive quarters of profit.

Within the investment banking unit, assets grew by 8 percent to $19.3 trillion for the first quarter. Fees rose 4 percent, to $1.4 billion.

The net earnings of $6.5 billion, or $1.59 a share, exceeded Wall Street analysts’ expectations. Revenue was $25.8 billion, compared with $26.8 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The report kicked off the bank earnings season. As the nation’s largest bank by assets, JPMorgan is often looked at as a bellwether.

A bright spot for earnings was mortgage lending, fueled in part by federal programs that have helped damp interest rates. Those low rates have prompted homeowners to refinance. The mortgage banking group posted a profit of $673 million, down 31 percent from a year earlier.

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