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Dimon Quip Leads Analysts to Blame Trading Slump on Weather

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon
Jamie Dimon, chairman, president and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg

Jamie Dimon was talking about the business climate, not the polar vortex that gripped much of the U.S. this winter, when he mentioned “weather” in a discussion about a slump in trading revenue at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The audience took him more literally.

“That’s just the weather,” Dimon, the bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in an annual presentation to investors at the firm’s New York headquarters Feb. 25, referring to the drop. Trading revenue is down about 15 percent so far this year compared with the same period in 2013, he said.

The comments prompted at least three analysts to attribute the decline to the winter season, which has caused above-average snow cover across the Midwest and Northeast in the coldest start to the year since 2011. Four major storms struck the eastern U.S. in January, according to the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. Within hours of the CEO’s remarks, references to winter began appearing in research notes on JPMorgan’s business.

“How many days have you had where traders might not have come into the office?” Richard Staite, an analyst at Atlantic Equities LLP, said yesterday in a phone interview. “It might be explained by the bad weather. It might also be driven by continued sense of uncertainty around the effect of tapering plus concerns about China or emerging markets.”

Dimon didn’t mean to imply the actual weather caused the decline, according to Brian Marchiony, a bank spokesman.

“Jamie was saying that market volumes, like the weather, are somewhat unpredictable,” Marchiony said in an e-mailed statement.

Reduced client activity, especially in fixed-income, pressured results in the first quarter, said Dimon, 57. Fixed-income trading revenue for the industry will be stable this year and probably next year, Daniel Pinto, co-head of the investment bank, said at the same event.

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