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Chase's Profits Jump 46 Percent
NEW YORK — Chase Manhattan Corp., the third-biggest U.S. bank holding company, said on Wednesday its fourth-quarter operating profits jumped 46 percent to $1.68 billion, well beyond Wall Street's forecasts, driven by investment banking fees and investments in start-up companies.

Chase earned $1.97 in the quarter, up from to $1.31 a share, or $1.15 billion, in the same quarter in 1998. Many multinational commercial and investment banks' profits slumped late in 1998, because of unprecedented economic turmoil in emerging markets, but Chase fared better than others because of strong currency trading and investments in start-up companies.

Operating results exclude the impact of credit card securitizations, restructuring costs and special items. On a net basis, Chase earned $1.69 billion in the fourth quarter, compared to $1.15 billion a year ago.

The bank also said its board authorized the repurchase of up to $5 billion of its common stock.

Wall Street had expected the New York-based bank to earn $1.32 a share in its fourth quarter, according to tracking service First Call/Thomson Financial.

Soaring U.S. stock prices, the result of a nine-year economic expansion here, as well as investors' hunger for new stock offerings, particularly from technology companies, and a global boom in merger deals lifted results at the big banks and Wall Street brokers in the fourth quarter.

Chase's global bank booked revenues of $3.21 billion in the quarter, up 46 percent from last year. Private equity-related investment gains were $1.31 billion, up from $244 million in the fourth quarter of 1998, while investment banking fees rose 31 percent to $499 million.

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