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Citigroup Cautious on U.S. Economy, Housing

Reserve releases for the bank as a whole totaled $1.5 billion, up 6% from the prior year period. Citi Holdings saw an increase in reserve releases following regulatory guidance that required the bank to recognize losses in post-bankruptcy loans, even though most of them are current. The pace of reserve releases excluding this adjustment slowed.

End of period loans at Citicorp grew 11% over the prior year, reflecting "strong growth in corporate loans and growth in Latin America and Asia." Deposits rose 11% to $945 billion.

The bank saw an improvement in net interest margins quarter-on-quarter to 2.83% from 2.81%, as it gained access to cheaper deposits. Other banks that have reported so far have seen margins compress as interest rates dropped.

Strong fixed income trading revenue was the highlight of the quarter, with revenue jumping 63% year on year and 31% quarter-on-quarter, boosted by strong performance in rates and currencies.

Market volumes were down slightly during the quarter, but market conditions in terms of client flow and liquidity were much better than the previous year, CFO John Gerspach said in a media conference call.

He added that investments in the securities and banking business made in 2011 were beginning to pay off and that the bank was gaining more wallet share across businesses.

Overall, securities and banking revenues increased 15% year on year and 7% quarter-on-quarter, excluding CVA/DVA to $4.77 billion, while net income rose 67% year-on-year and 27% quarter-on-quarter to $1.619 billion excluding the accounting charge.

Global consumer banking revenue rose 2% year-on-year. Revenues in Asia dropped 4% as the spread on loans fell with interest rates and amid regulatory headwinds in countries like Korea, where Citigroup is repositioning its business.

The bank says growth in Asia has slowed but continues to outpace that of developed markets. Loan growth has begun to moderate in Asia but Latin America continues to be healthy.

In North America, consumer banking revenues rose 5% quarter-on-quarter and 6% year-on-year.

Still, Citigroup's outlook on U.S. remains cautious. The impending fiscal cliff has created a "great deal of uncertainty" that impacts corporations and consumers, Gerspach said during the media call.
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