Goldman Sachs profits hit by market volatility

Goldman Sachs Image copyright Getty Images

Goldman Sachs' profits have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row, after market volatility hit investment banking and bond trading arms.

First quarter net income fell 56% to $1.2bn, or $2.68 a share.

That compared with $2.75bn or $5.94 a share, a year earlier, when the bank recorded its best quarterly profit in five years.

Goldman was the last of the big US banks to release first-quarter results.

Fluctuating commodities, low oil prices, a slowing Chinese economy and uncertainty about US interest rates managed to scare off investors and companies.

Net revenue dropped 40% to $6.3bn compared with $10.6bn a year ago.

Revenue from trading bonds, currencies and commodities fell 47% to $1.66bn, about 26% of total revenue. Before the financial crisis, that division typically contributed 40% of revenue.

Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said: "The operating environment this quarter presented a broad range of challenges, resulting in headwinds across virtually every one of our businesses.

"Looking ahead, we will continue to focus on delivering superior service to our clients and managing our business efficiently, which remain essential to generating shareholder value over the long term."

On Monday, rival Morgan Stanley reported a 54% fall in first quarter profits.

Its chief executive James Gorman said the returns for shareholders was "not acceptable" and that the bank might need to get "much more aggressive" about cost cutting.

This has been a running theme among all the big banks, who have been tightening their belts to make up for weak revenue.

Goldman Sachs expenditure on salaries, bonuses and other expenses was $2.66bn for the first quarter, which is 40% lower than the same time last year.

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