JPMorgan Chase & Co. today reported a $371 million loss in net income for its card-services unit for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, down from net income of $609 million during the same period in 2007. Revenues for the unit were $4.91 billion, up almost 23.7% from $3.97 billion, boosted by Chase's acquisition last year of Washington Mutual Inc. Contributing to the loss was a 121.8% increase in loan-loss provisions, to $3.97 billion from $1.79 billion. Average managed loans during the quarter totaled $187.3 billion, up 23.5% from $151.7 billion a year earlier. Net charge-offs for the quarter including WaMu's card portfolio, jumped to 5.56% of outstanding receivables compared with 3.68% a year earlier. Michael J. Cavanagh, Chase chief financial officer, told analysts today during a teleconference that he expects the charge-off rate to rise to about 7% this year. He said it could reach 8% this year if unemployment rates continue to climb. Charge volume during the quarter was $96 billion, up slightly compared with $95.5 billion a year earlier. Chase's merchant-processing volume sank 30.9%, to $135.1 billion  from $195.4 billion. Chase processed 4.9 billion transactions during the quarter, down 9.3% compared with 5.4 billion during the fourth quarter of 2007. Chase issued 168.7 million cards as of the end of the year, up 8.8% from 155 million a year earlier.

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