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Citigroup reports mixed Q1, stock dips as equity trading swoons

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

Citigroup (^C) reported mixed first quarter earnings on Monday that beat Wall Street’s estimates, but a modest rise in bond trading wasn’t enough to offset a steep drop-off in stock trading revenue.

The banking giant earned $1.87 per share compared to earnings per share of $1.68 in the comparable year-ago quarter. Amid a dip in institutional client activity, Citi’s revenue for first quarter came in at $18.6 billion, versus $18.9 billion during the first quarter of 2018.

On average, Wall Street analysts expected Citi to earn $1.80 per share on $18.59 billion of revenues.

The bank saw a 2% year-over-year drop in revenue, but that was offset by a commensurate rise in net income, driven by cost cutting and a boost from lower tax rates.

Meanwhile, earnings per share soared 11%, Citi said, helped by a cut in average diluted shares and the boost in net income. However, a 1% revenue gain in bond dealing wasn’t enough to offset a 24% plunge in equities trading during the quarter.

Citi’s results are part of the first wave of big bank earnings, which normally set the tone for markets, as well as expectations for the economy. Last week, JPMorgan Chase’s blockbuster first quarter blew past market estimates, and helped spark a broad rally.

The largest U.S. bank reaped record revenues and blew past Wall Street’s estimates, while Goldman Sachs also turned in a better-than-expected profit, but its results were weighed by a steep drop in trading revenue.

Citi’s stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, ended the session largely flat at $67.38 per share.