3 trends bank customers learned

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Anyone with an ATM card, checking account or interest-bearing CD was listening for something positive when JPMorgan Chase, the No. 1 U.S. bank by deposits, announced earnings on Thursday.

For the most part, account holders probably liked what the bank’s chief financial officer, Marianne Lake, had to say about the state of the bank, the economy and all-important U.S. consumer.

The bank made $6.7 billion in the third quarter, which topped Wall Street expectations. The main storyline was upbeat: People on Main Street are doing well and are still filling out applications for mortgages and using their credit cards responsibly.

But the things Lake told Wall Street analysts in a conference call were the real money quotes. Three things stood out:

CYBERTHEFT FEARS DON’T MATERIALIZE

The high-profile hack at credit-reporting firm Equifax didn’t, um, break the bank at J.P. Morgan. Fears of cyberthieves using data to file for loans using stolen personal data didn’t materialize in any measurable way — at least not yet. In fact, Lake said, “As a practical matter we are not seeing a significant increase in fraud.” Nor, she said, did the cybertheft of personal data of more than 145 million Americans from Equifax hurt its loan business, saying, “We saw no measurable impact on loan growth.”

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GET USED TO PUNY INTEREST

There have been three short-term interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve since last December, which have boosted the Fed’s key rate to a range of 1%  to 1.25%. Even so, Lake said customers shouldn’t expect interest paid on passbook savings, checking accounts or CDs to rise much. There has been “very little or any movement in repricing of consumer accounts,” she told analysts. But that could change, she says, if the Fed, as it has signaled to markets, hikes rates again in December and three or four more times next year. The national average interest paid on savings accounts is a skimpy 0.09%, according to BankRate.com.

More: What drove J.P. Morgan’s third-quarter profit? That loan you took out

More: After Equifax, make it expensive for credit bureaus to be ‘stupid’

More: 4 earnings trends that could impact your 401(k)

HEALTHY STATE OF CONSUMERS

CEO Jamie Dimon said in the bank’s earnings report that the U.S. consumer “remains healthy, thanks to solid wage growth.” Lake backed up her boss’ claim, noting continued strength in the bank’s home-loan business: “Our consumer mortgage business remains strong and is performing well.”

 

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