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Citigroup first-quarter earnings outrun expectations

NEW YORK - Citigroup (C) says its first-quarter earnings rose, beating the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

The bank made $4.1 billion in the first quarter, after stripping out the effects of an accounting change and a tax item. That was up 2.5 percent from the same period a year earlier, when it made $4 billion.

On a per-share basis, that amounted to $1.30 compared with $1.29 a year ago. That was better than estimates of analysts polled by FactSet, who were expecting $1.14.

Citi got a boost from improving results in its Citi Holdings unit, which is selling off assets such as mortgages that soured in the financial crisis. Losses at Citi Holdings narrowed to $284 million from $804 million in the same period a year earlier. The bank also benefited from a small drop in expenses.

In a note to clients, analysts at Jeffries noted that Cit's "expenses were fairly well-controlled. Capital is solid, but questions about stress test resubmission and return potential will likely be difficult to answer."

Citi's earnings improved even as revenue from mortgage refinancing and bond trading fell.

Revenue was $20.1 billion. That was down 2 percent from the same period last year when the bank generated revenue of $20.6 billion.

Analysts had forecast revenue of $19.5 billion.

Citi's stock rose $1.60, or 3.6 percent, to $47.34 in premarket trading.

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