Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., the two biggest U.S. banks by assets, racked up perfect trading records for the second time this year, making money every day last quarter after accomplishing the same feat in the first three months of 2010.
Traders at B of A made more than $25 million on more than 55 days during the third quarter, it said in a Nov. 5 regulatory filing. JPMorgan Chase, which doesn't break out results by quarter, made more than $200 million on 12 days in the first nine months and lost money on only eight, it said Tuesday in a filing.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which makes the most revenue on Wall Street trading stocks and bonds, had losses in that business on two days in the third quarter, while Morgan Stanley reported 10 losing days. Goldman and Citigroup Inc. had perfect trading results in the first quarter.
Lower volatility and improving credit markets helped Wall Street's trading results last quarter, said Jim Mitchell, a senior vice president at Buckingham Research Group. "If you don't have a lot of volatility and markets are generally positive, you don't tend to have a lot of trading losses," Mitchell said.
JPMorgan Chase said its value at risk, a measure of the average amount it could lose on any given day, fell to $109 million in the third quarter from $178 million a year earlier, driven primarily by a decline in market volatility.
Chris Whalen, a former Federal Reserve Bank of New York analyst and co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics, said trading volume was also strong during the third quarter and banks benefited from the "carry trade," the difference between their low cost of funds and the yield they earned on investments.
Trading revenue at eight of the biggest Wall Street firms fell an average of 12% through September from a year earlier. Goldman generated 69% of revenue this year from trading, and said third-quarter trading results declined 36%. The seven days that Goldman made more than $100 million last quarter were the fewest since the fourth quarter of 2006. Morgan Stanley said Monday that it made more than $100 million on one day last quarter, versus 18 days in the third quarter of 2009.
Morgan Stanley had $1.43 billion of total sales and trading revenue in the third quarter, the lowest since the first quarter of 2009. Excluding losses and gains tied to its own credit spreads, it generated $1.31 billion from trading fixed-income products, down 24% from the second quarter.