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Mortgage Banking Suffers at Wells, JPMorgan

This season's bank releases kicked off Tuesday with dual quarterly earnings reports from ""JPMorgan Chase"":http://www.jpmorganchase.com/corporate/Home/home.htm and Wells Fargo--and as ""projected"":https://themreport.com/articles/will-bank-earnings-meet-fourth-quarter-expectations-2014-01-10, weakened origination figures took their toll.

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JPMorgan's fourth-quarter income came to nearly $5.3 billion, a recovery from the third quarter's losses but a weak showing compared to the prior year's $5.7 billion. Net income for the full year was $17.9 billion compared to $21.3 billion in 2012.

The report caps off a tumultuous year for the megabank, which spent the last few months working toward ""settlements"":https://themreport.com/articles/jpmorgan-working-on-45b-deal-with-rmbs-investors-2013-11-18 on ""legal actions"":https://themreport.com/articles/jpmorgan-fhfa-settle-on-51b-deal-over-soured-loans-2013-10-28 related to soured mortgage-backed securities (MBS)--including a landmark ""$13 billion deal"":https://themreport.com/articles/jpmorgan-us-government-reach-record-13b-dollar-deal-on-rmbs-claims-2013-11-19 with government. The fourth quarter's results included a non-MBS settlement related to the bank's failure to intervene in Bernard Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme that cost investors billions of dollars.

""We are pleased to have made progress on our control, regulatory and litigation agendas and to have put some significant issues behind us this quarter,"" said Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chairman and CEO. ""It was in the best interests of our company and shareholders for us to accept responsibility, resolve these issues and move forward.""

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Mortgage banking net income was $562 million, an increase of 34 percent over the prior year, ""driven by lower noninterest expense and provision for credit losses, predominantly offset by lower net revenue,"" the bank reported.

Originations totaled $23.3 billion, down 54 percent from the year-ago quarter and 42 percent from Q3. Purchase originations made up $13.0 billion of that, reflecting the ongoing dwindling in refinances. Application volumes were $31.3 billion, down 52 percent from the prior year and 23 percent from the prior quarter.

A lower provision for credit losses provided a benefit of $782 million, reflecting a $950 million reduction in loan loss allowances as a result of the improving housing market.

Meanwhile, ""Wells Fargo"":https://www.wellsfargo.com/ reported fourth-quarter profits of $5.6 billion, a 10 percent improvement over the same quarter last year. For all of 2013, the bank pulled in $21.9 billion, up 16 percent year-over-year.

""The fourth quarter of 2013 was very strong for Wells Fargo, with record earnings, solid growth in loans, deposits and capital, and strong credit quality,"" commented CFO Tim Sloan, who noted growth in net interest and noninterest income, ""despite a challenging rate environment and the expected decline in mortgage originations.""

Mortgage banking income at the nation's biggest home lender was $1.6 billion, down $38 million quarter-over-quarter. The quarterly loss was driven in large part by a decline in mortgage originations, which totaled $50 billion compared to Q3's $80 billion.

Mortgage applications at Wells Fargo came to $65 billion in the fourth quarter, down from $87 billion in the previous report--once again reflecting consumers' waning interest as interest rates climb ever upward.

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