Morgan Stanley profits jump on bond trading growth

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Morgan Stanley profits rose sharply in the first quarter as the Wall Street giant became the latest bank to see growth in the period.

The US firm reported profits up 74% to $1.84bn (£1.4bn) for the three months against the same quarter last year.

The gain came as investment banking and bond trading revenues jumped, and the bank was able to set aside less money for credit losses.

The growth also reflected a rebound from 2016's rocky start.

"We reported one of our strongest quarters in recent years," chief executive James Gorman said.

"All our businesses performed well in improved market conditions. We are confident in our business model and the opportunities ahead, while recognizing that the environment remains uncertain."

Morgan Stanley's profits and revenue growth beat analysts' forecasts. On Tuesday, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America also reported quarterly growth, although there was some disappointment that the figures were not higher.

Total revenue at Morgan Stanley increased 25% from the same period in 2016, reaching $9.7bn.

Trading revenue rose 57% to $3.2bn, amid a surge in the fixed-income unit.

The $1.7bn in fixed income trading revenue marked the best quarter in two years and the fourth quarter in a row that Morgan Stanley hit its $1 billion target for bond trading revenue.

"This is quite a number for a company that just two years ago was setting a billion dollars a quarter as an aspirational goal, and it stands in sharp relief to Goldman's air ball yesterday," Oppenheimer analyst Chris Kotowski said in a note to clients.

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