NEW YORK – Morgan Stanley shares leaped 4% Friday morning, with investors encouraged by the bank's updated strategic plan. The gain came even as the bank reported a big plunge in fourth-quarter earnings, which were crimped as the bank set aside more money for potential legal expenses. In the strategic plan, Morgan Stanley reiterated its goal to get the return on equity above 10%, excluding an accounting charge. That would be roughly double its current level. It also raised its goal for profit margins in the wealth management unit, which it has been emphasizing in a bid to make returns steadier and less risky, and pledged higher dividends and buybacks. It also sketched out plans to potentially sell the pipeline operator TransMontaigne. The bank added that it had made faster-than-expected progress on scaling back certain assets in its fixed income and commodities unit, where revenue has been under pressure from new regulations and a fizzling market. The bank also laid out goals for reaching new capital requirements from regulators.
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