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JPMorgan Chase profit declines amid legal woes

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon experienced a tough

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon experienced a tough year at the bank in 2013 as $1.1-billion in legal expenses, most of them linked to a Bernie Madoff-related settlement, took a toll on profits. Credit: AP

JPMorgan Chase & Co. posted a 7.3 percent decline in quarterly profit Tuesday as legal woes and weak demand for investment banking services capped off a tough year for chief executive Jamie Dimon.

The largest U.S. bank had $1.1 billion of legal expenses in the fourth quarter, about $850 million of which was linked to a recent settlement for failing to report its suspicions of fraud at its client Bernard Madoff's fund.

The bank agreed to some $20 billion of legal settlements in 2013 -- almost equal to a typical year's profit -- which covered everything from mortgages it packaged into bonds before the financial crisis, to bad derivatives trades it made in 2012.

Dimon said some investigations into JPMorgan are just beginning, implying that legal issues are likely to dog the bank for some time, even if on a smaller scale.

The bank faces also headwinds in businesses ranging from debt underwriting to advising companies on mergers. Rising bond yields are cutting into demand for issuing debt, and new rules designed to make the financial system safer are cutting into trading volumes.

JPMorgan's results, however, beat analysts' estimates. Its shares closed at $57.74, up 4 cents.

Dimon said in a conference call with investors Tuesday that JPMorgan has replaced 2 million credit and debit cards as a result of the recent security breach at Target, in which hackers accessed personal data for millions of customers.

Separately, Wells Fargo & Co., the fourth-largest U.S. bank, Tuesday posted its lowest quarterly mortgage lending volume since the fourth quarter of 2008. But the bank posted an overall profit jump because it cut costs and dipped into money it had set aside to cover loan losses.

Combined wire services

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