Banks post big profits, but lower interest rates are a worry

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2019, file photo, the logo for Citigroup appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Citigroup’s fourth-quarter profits rose by 15% from a year earlier, as the bank benefited from a boost in trading similar to its competitor JPMorgan Chase. Citi said Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, that bond trading revenues were up 49% from a year earlier, when a steep downfall in the last quarter of 2018 took its toll on all banks’ trading desks.

NEW YORK (AP) — Citigroup's fourth-quarter profits rose by 15%, as the banking conglomerate benefited from a boost in trading similar to competitor JPMorgan Chase.

The New York-based bank said Tuesday that it earned a profit of $4.98 billion, or $2.15 per share, compared with a profit of $4.3 billion, or $1.65 per share, in the same period a year earlier. The results topped analysts’ expectations for a profit of $1.81 a share, according to FactSet.

Like JPMorgan Chase, which also reported its results on Tuesday, Citi saw a boost in profits from its trading operations. Bond trading revenues rose 49% from a year earlier, when a steep downfall in the markets in the fourth quarter took its toll on all banks’ trading desks.

In Citi’s consumer group, profits rose 12% from a year earlier, helped by the bank’s large credit card division where more consumers borrowed and spent during the holiday season.

The bank's return on common equity, a measurement on how well a bank performs with the assets it holds, was 10.6% in the quarter. Banks the size of Citi typically aim to have that figure above 10%.

For the full year, Citi had a profit of $19.4 billion, up from $18.05 billion in 2018. Revenue at the bank was $74.29 billion compared with $72.85 billion a year before.

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