Driven mainly by its investment banking division, which offset losses on credit cards and consumer loans, JP Morgan Chase reported strong earnings for the third quarter 2009. As for its auto finance segment, originations were up 82 percent.

Profits during the quarter rose to $3.59 billion, the highest point since the subprime mortgage meltdown. For the same period last year, the bank reported $527 million in earnings.

Driven mainly by the Cash for Clunkers program, the bank’s auto lending segment – which now serves as the captive finance company for Subaru, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mazda – originated $6.9 billion in loans, up 30 percent from the second quarter. For the same period last year, the company originated $3.8 billion in auto loans.

Average auto loans were $43.3 billion, down 1 percent from the same quarter last year.

Overall, JP Morgan Chase’s consumer lending business posted a net loss of $1 billion, up from the $659 million in the same period of last year. It’s credit card division reported a net loss of $700 million, which was an improvement on the $992 million lost in the third quarter of 2008.

The second-largest U.S. bank’s investment banking business made a net income of $1.9 billion, up from $1 billion in the third quarter 2008.

“Credit losses remain high and are expected to stay elevated for the foreseeable future,” said Jamie Dimon, CEO, in a statement. “While we are seeing some initial signs of consumer credit stability, we are not yet certain that this trend well continue.”