Goldman down, Bear Stearns up in Q1 forex

Goldman’s London-based global head of FX Geoff Grant told RiskNews' sister publication FX Week that increased volume and volatility in FX and commodities had helped the FICC division perform well, despite an unquantified FX downturn year-on-year. "Although net revenues for currencies were down slightly compared with an exceptionally strong Q1 last year, our underlying franchise remains strong," he said.

In common with the other US investment houses, Goldman Sachs does not give figures for FX trading. However, the wider FICC division reported best-ever quarterly revenues of $1.9 billion for Q1.

Other banks last week said they had enjoyed a more successful quarter in FX.

Bear Stearns did "very well across the board" in FX in Q1, said David Schoenthal, head of FX at the bank in New York. "We have seen more customer business, particularly in options." He added that the management is very pleased with the direction Bear Stearns’ FX business is taking, and that it is on track for a similarly good FX performance in Q2.

Bear Stearns’ fixed-income net revenues rose to $791.2 million for Q1, up 44.3% from $548.2 million for Q1, 2002.

Morgan Stanley reported improved year-on-year revenues in its wider fixed-income business, which houses forex. Fixed-income sales and trading net revenues were up 48% to $1.7 billion from last year’s Q1 revenues of $1.1 billion.

Chairman and chief executive officer Philip Purcell said the fixed-income results were despite the "challenging environment" and "declining consumer confidence". "The increase in revenues was broadly based with strong performances through the bank’s currency, commodities, credit and interest rate groups," he said.

Lehman Brothers’ fixed-income division, which includes FX, also saw record revenues in Q1, said a spokesman at Lehman in London. He declined to comment on whether the uptick reflected improved FX earnings, but said it was largely due to strong customer flow.

The bank reported first-quarter fixed-income earnings of $891 million - a 31% increase over last year’s first quarter.

Merrill Lynch and JP Morgan Chase both release their Q1 results in mid-April, at the same time as the commercial banks. Brown Brothers Harriman is a privately owned company and does not publish financial results.

The US investment banks’ reporting period for Q1 2003 runs from December 1 2002 to February 28 2003.

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