Further evidence of the deteriorating state of the US economy emerged yesterday as both JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo reported that fourth-quarter earnings had been hit by higher provisions for loan losses in consumer-related businesses. Financial Times, Daily Telgraph, The Times

The results from the two big banks followed the disclosure by Citigroup on Tuesday that credit costs in its US consumer business had risen by $4.1bn as more borrowers, hit by falling house prices, struggled to keep up with payments on credit card, auto and home equity loans.

JPMorgan once again avoided the huge write downs on sub-prime mortgage-related securities that have plagued its rivals.