The bank made $5.38bn of profits in the first quarter, down from a record $5.56bn (3.4bn pounds) in the first quarter of 2011. However, the earnings topped forecasts and were a significant improvement on the final three months of last year, when Europe's debt crisis eroded trading revenues and appetite for risk.
Revenues generated by JPMorgan's bond and equity trading divisions almost doubled to $6bn in the quarter compared with the fourth quarter. Though falling shy of the $6.64bn its traders generated a year ago, the figure suggests that the European Central Bank's programme to ease financial tensions has helped Wall Street's trading desks.
Howard Chen, an analyst who covers the industry at Credit Suisse, suggested that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may now top expectations when they release results next week.
JPMorgan, which also has a large retail banking and mortgage business in the US, also benefitted from signs that the world's largest economy is strengthening. Its retail business made a profit of $1.75bn in the quarter compared with an almost $400m loss a year earlier. Meanwhile, the amount of money it set aside to cover losses on loans tumbled sharply to $726m from $1.17bn at the start of 2011.
Chief executive Jamie Dimon, who this month lambasted governments and regulators for slowing the global recovery, struck a cautious note on the bank's mortgage business. The collapse of the housing bubble has left several major US banks nursing losses on their mortgage loans. "we expect to see elevated levels of costs and losses associated with mortgage-related issues for a while longer."