Tight leash on costs helps Citigroup trump Wall Street view

Citigroup beats on earnings results as its bread-and-butter business shines

Wall Street estimated earnings of $1.32 per share. Analysts had expected $1.32 a share.

"We delivered a very strong quarter, showing the balance of our franchise by both product and geography and highlighting our multiple engines of client-led growth", Citi CEO Michael Corbat said in a statement.

Citi's global consumer banking business had a mixed quarter as growth in Asia and Latin America was overshadowed by a drop in the United States.

Revenues grew 2% year-over-year to $18.2 billion, beating estimates of $17.86 billion.

Citigroup's stock has risen 26% this year, by far the best among the U.S.'s six biggest banks, thanks in part to the announcement of a plan to return $60 billion in capital through 2020.

Also in ICG, in the closely-watched Markets and Securities Services unit, revenues rose 3% to $4.6bn, with improved sales at its Securities Services arm and the proceeds from the sale of a fixed income analytics unit more than compensating for lower Markets revenues. EPS was down 2%, excluding this item.

The bank's profit was $4.13 billion, up 8% from $3.84 billion a year ago. But revenue from fixed-income trading fell 16 percent to US$2.88 billion.

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Corporate/Other shrank 55% to $509 million.

Trading revenue has cast a dark cloud over bank results.

Wall Street banks have seen major declines in market trading activity, which was boosted previous year on global macroeconomic uncertainty, especially around Brexit and the US presidential election.

Expenses at the bank were US$10.17 billion, 2 percent lower than a year ago. Rival JPMorgan Chase & Co said its trading revenue fell 21 percent.

There were bright spots as the bank's much smaller equities trading business saw a 16 percent increase in revenue and investment banking, which includes equity underwriting, rose 14 percent.

Revenue from the North American branded cards business declined 1 percent, even though the company had said that it expected a significant payoff in the last half of this year from earlier investments in its card business with retailer Costco and from its promotion of its Double Cash card.

Investment banking revenues were up 14% from a year ago to $1.23 billion, but the group lost some momentum from a strong second quarter where it produced $1.5 billion in revenues - a 17% dip from the previous quarter.

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