US banking helps Citi to $2.9 bn profit

US banking giant Citigroup on Monday reported a $2.9 billion profit for the first quarter of the year, down slightly from a year ago, as North American consumer banking profits guarded against deeper losses.

A 41 percent increase in North American consumer banking revenue helped see the bank post respectable -- if weaker than expected -- revenue for the first quarter of the year.

The company was operating in "an improved environment," said Vikram Pandit, Citi's Chief Executive Officer.

"Global Consumer Banking, our largest business, produced another quarter of good growth in revenues, net income and key drivers like loans and deposits."

Outside North America and deep in the bowels of the company's finances the picture was not so pretty.

Hedges on the company's credit worthiness resulted in a $1.3 billion loss.

Weakened retail banking in European, the Middle East and Africa dragged on the bottom line.

The company's consumer business saw a 10 percent drop in revenues from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Profits in Latin America also fell.

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