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Mortgage Earnings Dip at JPMorgan

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. saw a substantial increase in earnings during the first quarter, no thanks to its mortgage division.

Like other big lenders, JPMorgan Chase saw a substantial drop in mortgage income related to lower gain on sale of new mortgages and higher risk management costs associated with mortgage servicing rights.

Nonetheless, strength in other sectors allowed JPMorgan Chase to post net income of $3.1 billion, or $0.86 per share, compared to $2.3 billion, or $0.63 per share, in the first quarter of last year. The income came off of record quarterly revenue totaling $4.7 billion.

But mortgage banking net income fell to $39 million, substantially below the year-earlier level of $139 million. Lower loan production revenue reflected a decline in gain-on-sale margins despite a larger volume of originations. Mortgage servicing income totaled $169 million, down from $283 million in the first quarter of last year. JPMorgan cited the higher cost of hedging risk in the MSR asset as the primary factor behind the drop in servicing income.

The company originated $28.9 billion of home loans in the first quarter, up 8% from the first quarter of 2005. The servicing portfolio totaled $484 billion at the end of the first quarter, an increase of $49 billion, or 11%.

However, home-equity origination volume of $11.7 billion in the first quarter was down 2% compared to a year earlier. The company's retained mortgage loan portfolio averaged $44.6 billion in the first quarter, up 3% from a year earlier. Average home-equity loans retained totaled $74.1 billion, an increase of 12%.

President and CEO Jamie Dimon said that overall his company benefited from lower bankruptcy rates in the credit card sector and positive momentum across its business lines.

"Our businesses generally experienced underlying growth in customer accounts, loans, deposits, assets under management, and business volumes from new and existing clients. Additionally, the investment bank had strong fee income and improved trading performance," he said in a company news release.

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