Morgan Stanley profits fall is less than feared

The US bank Morgan Stanley reported a 48% drop in profits in the first quarter of this year - much less than had been feared.

The New York investment bank earned $736m (£449m), compared with $1.4bn in the first three months of last year.

The fall was largely down to a sharp drop in revenue from bond trading and losses from a Japanese investment.

But the earnings were almost 20% higher than analysts forecasts and the shares closed 1.7% higher.

Revenue from bond trading was 35% down on the same quarter last year, although 2010 was an unusually strong quarter across Wall Street for that business.

Most US banks saw income from that quarter drop over the year, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

Morgan Stanley's chief financial officer Ruth Porat said the division performed well in trading currencies and interest rate products such as government debt: "We're making progress."

Other aspects of its business performed well. The wealth management group, which is a joint venture with Citigroup saw income rise 85% to $183m.

Morgan Stanley's client base rose by 7%.

The bank's quarterly results included several one-off items, including an after-tax loss from its stake in a Japanese securities joint venture, and a gain of 30 cents per share from the sale of its stake in a casino project in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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