Citigroup quarterly profit tumbles 73% as loan loss provisions surge

July 14 (Reuters) – Citigroup Inc reported a nearly 73% plunge in quarterly profit on Tuesday as the bank set aside $5.6 billion to brace itself for a potential surge in loan defaults stemming from the coronavirus outbreak.

The New York-based bank reported a profit of $1.32 billion, or 50 cents per share, for the second quarter ended June 30, down from $4.8 billion, or $1.95 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 5% to $19.77 billion.

Analysts on average had forecast $19.12 billion in revenue and earnings of 28 cents per share, according to Refinitiv data. It was not immediately clear whether estimates were comparable with the figures reported by the bank.

The largest U.S. lenders have so far stashed away more than $52 billion to prepare for potential losses this year after government ordered shutdowns triggered historic unemployment and a slowdown in spending.

As the third largest credit card issuer in the United States, Citi is especially susceptible to any jump in credit card delinquencies, which tend to track rises in unemployment closely.

So far, Citi has offered forbearance on 2 million credit card accounts representing 6% of balances, the bank said.

While the pandemic has caused banks to reevaluate their loan books, it has been a boon for deposits.

End of period deposits surged 18% to $1.23 trillion as stimulus programs left consumers and corporate clients with more cash to help them ride out the economic consequences of the pandemic.

Total loans, however, fell marginally to $685 billion.

Trading fees were again a bright spot for the bank as market volatility prompted more client activity, helping offset rock-bottom interest rates that make it harder for banks to earn money on lending.

Fixed income jumped 68% from a year earlier, overshadowing a 3% decline in equities trading. (Reporting by C Nivedita and Imani Moise in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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