JPMorgan profit beats estimates on M&A boost

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-JPMorgan Chase & Co reported a 14% fall in fourth-quarter earnings on Friday but sailed past analysts' estimates, helped by a stellar performance at its investment banking unit that offset a slowdown in its trading arm.

The country's largest lender, whose fortunes are often seen as a barometer of the health of the U.S. economy, posted a profit of $10.4 billion, or $3.33 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with $12.1 billion, or $3.79 per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of $3.01 per share, according to Refinitiv.

JPMorgan's trading shortfall was cushioned by yet another strong quarter for its investment bank as global mergers and acquisitions activity shattered all-time records in 2021.

Wall Street banking remained strong for most of the past year, as large, cash-flush financial sponsors and corporates embarked on a dealmaking spree, helping drive up investment banking fees to their highest-ever levels.

Large U.S. lenders have benefited from higher consumer spending, while their trading arms gained from exceptional volatility in financial markets last year. However, soaring inflation and a potential Omicron-induced economic slowdown are set to challenge profit growth in the coming months.

Other large U.S. banks including Citigroup and Wells Fargo will also report results on Friday. Goldman Sachs, Wall Street's premier investment bank, will report earnings on Tuesday, while Morgan Stanley and Bank of America round out the earnings season on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bengaluru and Matt Scuffham in New York; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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