- Toru Hanai/Reuters
The crash of fixed income, currencies, and commodities trading has been Wall Street’s never-ending story.
Over the past few years, revenue has plunged, traders have been fired, and business lines have been shuttered.
But for at least a moment, that pressure seems to have abated.
On Friday, both JPMorgan and Citigroup reported a knockout quarter in the business in the third quarter.
For its fixed-income unit, JPMorgan reported revenue of $4.33 billion for the quarter – up 45% from the same quarter a year ago. That’s the unit’s best performance in more than three years.
Daniel Pinto, the CEO of JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank, said in a memo to employees that both macro (rates and FX) and spread products (credit) had their best third quarter in five years.
Over at Citigroup, fixed-income markets revenue came in at $3.5 billion, up 35% from the same quarter a year ago and on par with that of the second quarter, which is traditionally a busier time of year than summer. The bank said there was strength in rates, currencies, and spread products, making the rebound broad-based.
That performance helped the bank beat analyst expectations.
JPMorgan and Citigroup finished the first six months as the top two banks in fixed income, currencies, and commodities revenue, according to Coalition, and the good news for Wall Street more broadly is that the comeback has no single driver. Rates, currencies, and spread product revenues all rebounded.
- JPMorgan Chase & Co.
It is also the first time in a while in which both macro products, like rates and currencies, and spread products, like corporate bonds and securitized products, have been strong at the same time. Rates was a terrible business for several years but has bounced back recently, with credit becoming the horror show.
But JPMorgan CFO Marianne Lake said credit was “a comeback story” following a challenging period there.
Whether the performance is sustainable is another question. Numerous key factors aligned to help drive strong trading in the third quarter, including the aftermath of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the subsequent wild swings in sterling; big currency moves in various emerging markets; a surge in debt issuance; and plenty of central-bank news.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley report earnings next week. We’ll soon find out whether the rest of Wall Street has benefitted from the same rebound in its most important business.