Citi profit slides as coronavirus forces $5B increase in loan reserves

Quarterly earnings tumbled 46%

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Citigroup reported a 46% plunge in quarterly profit on Wednesday as the bank set aside nearly $5 billion to prepare for an expected flood of defaults on loans due to a virtual halt in economic activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The lender, the most global of the U.S. banks, said net income fell to $2.52 billion, or $1.05 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $4.71 billion, or $1.87 per share, a year earlier.

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Earnings per share were also boosted by a 10% reduction in shares outstanding.

Analysts on average had expected Citigroup to earn $1.04 per share, according to Refinitiv. It was not immediately clear whether those estimates were comparable to the reported results.