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Morgan Stanley tops first-quarter earnings expectations on equity trading

The banking giant’s top and bottom line blew past Wall Street expectations
A Morgan Stanley building
Shares surged in pre-market after reporting record profit and revenue for the first-quarter

Shares of Morgan Stanley (MS:NYSE) surged before the opening bell Wednesday after it posted strong first-quarter results that topped analysts’ expectations.

The banking giant reported net income of US$1.45 per share vs. US$1.25 expected by Wall Street.

It also posted record revenue of US$11.1bln vs. calls for US$10.36bln as the bank's equity trading unit navigated renewed financial market volatility better than competitors like Goldman Sachs.

Its stock rose 3.1% in Wednesday's pre-market session on the results.

"We delivered very strong results this quarter, with record revenues and net income - and an ROE above our target range," said CEO James Gorman in a release. "Each of our businesses performed well, with significant client engagement across our global franchise, and Sales and Trading a particular highlight in a more active environment."

Morgan Stanley's high performing equity trading desk locked in revenue of US$2.6bln in the period, up 30% from a year ago. The bank said it benefited from "higher levels of client activity" during the quarter.

In comparison, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) posted equity trading sales of US$2.31bln for the first quarter.


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