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Goldman Sachs Profit Falls 21 Percent

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Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, attends the Clinton Global Initiative, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Goldman Sachs reported Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit dropped 21 percent as revenue from mortgages and trading in bonds and other securities weakened.

EARNINGS: The Wall Street bank earned $2.25 billion in the October-December quarter after paying dividends on preferred shares, down from $2.83 billion in the same period a year earlier.

That worked out to $4.60 per share, down from $5.60 per share a year earlier. The results were well above the earnings of $4.18 per share analysts were expecting. Revenue slipped 5 percent to $8.78 billion, but exceeded analysts' forecast of $7.72 billion.

It was the first year-on-year decline in earnings at Goldman Sachs since the second quarter of 2012, when income fell 12 percent to $927 million.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Recent weakness in trading of bonds, currencies and commodities has depressed earnings at Goldman.

Goldman's CEO Lloyd Blankfein said in a prepared statement that the company has worked to keep costs down "to provide solid returns even in a somewhat challenging environment."

The decline came despite a 22 percent jump in earnings in Goldman's investment banking business in the fourth quarter, to $1.72 billion.

WHAT'S NEXT? Blankfein said improving prospects for the U.S. economy will help the company turn in strong results this year.

DIVIDEND, STOCK ACTION: Goldman maintained its quarterly dividend at 55 cents. Its stock fell $3.58, or 2 percent, to close at $175.17.

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