Citigroup's profits rise, helped by trading business

Markets Associated Press

Citigroup reported a first quarter profit that beat analysts' expectation Thursday. Like its competitors, Citi benefited from higher trading revenue and interest rates.

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The New York-based bank said it earned $4.1 billion, or $1.35 a share, compared with $3.5 billion, or $1.10 a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts were looking for Citi to earn $1.23 a share, according to FactSet.

Citi had a strong quarter in its investment banking division, as well as consumer banking business, which helped boost revenue across all its major business lines.

"The momentum we saw across many of our businesses toward the end of last year carried into the first quarter, resulting in significantly better overall performance than a year ago," said Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat in a statement.

In the company's investment banking division, its biggest business by revenue and profits, Citi reported net income of $3 billion, up 61 percent from a year ago. Fixed income trading revenue rose 19 percent from a year earlier and stock trading revenue increased 10 percent.

Citi's consumer banking division saw a drop in profits, however. Net income fell to $1 billion from $1.19 billion a year earlier. While revenue was up, the bank had higher expenses mostly related to having to set aside more money to cover bad loans.

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Average credit card loans rose to $151 billion from $131 billion in the same period a year ago. Like JPMorgan Chase, Citi has been aggressively expanding its credit card business. The bank acquired the Costco credit card portfolio from American Express last year.