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Charles Schwab 1st-qtr net income rises 2 percent

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Discount broker Charles Schwab Corp. said Monday its net income edged higher in the first quarter, but said trading activity remains weak.

Schwab's income rose less than 2 percent as the company reported greater revenue from asset management and administration fees and higher interest revenue. However it said trading activity is still lower than had expected, and in the first quarter its results were hurt by an increase in incentive payments, accelerated contributions to employee health savings accounts, and changes to incentive award vesting for employees who are eligible for retirement.

For the three months ended March 31, Schwab posted net income of $198 million, up from $195 million a year ago. On a per-share basis its net income was unchanged at 15 cents. Revenue rose 8 percent, to $1.29 billion from $1.19 billion.

Analysts, on average, were expecting net income of 16 cents per share and revenue of $1.27 billion, according to FactSet.

Schwab said revenue from asset management and administration rose 14 percent to $552 million and net interest revenue increased 8 percent to $469 million. Trading revenue fell 8 percent to $223 million.

The company said client assets rose14 percent from a year ago, to $2.08 trillion at the end of the quarter. Clients invested $43.4 billion in new assets during the quarter.

Schwab said in March that trading activity was lower than expected and that it planned to cut spending as a result. President and CEO Walt Bettinger said in a statement Monday that trading activity remains "muted."

Chief Financial Officer Joe Martinetto said the company expects to report full-year earnings per share in the mid 70-cents range. Wall Street is expecting profit of 74 cents per share for the year.

Shares of Charles Schwab lost 17 cents to $17.11 in morning trading. The stock started the session up about 19 percent since the start of the year, and has been trading in the 52-week range of $11.64 to $18.34.