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Morgan Stanley CFO : Economy 'Very Fragile' 

Despite seeing a pick-up in the company's retail investment business in September, the economy remains "very fragile," Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat told CNBC.

"We still think it's very fragile," Porat said, ahead of a earnings conference call with investors later Wednesday. "The type of slowdown we saw in July and August is troubling."

Morgan was out with somewhat tepid earnings resultsof five cents per share, after a slowdown in sales and trading and losses from a failed casino investment. Nonetheless, the bank generated net revenue of $6.8 billion.

Porat noted that there are still a number of "open items" that are causing turbulence in the markets this fall, including midterm elections in the U.S.; the Federal Reserve possibly doing another round of bond buying, or quantitative easing; and lingering questions over the final framework of the Basel III capital requirements.

On the upside, Porat said that emerging markets "continue to be strong" and that there are positive signs in the U.S. as well.

"Retail investors were more active in September," she said. "We're seeing investment banking pipelines continue to build." But, she summarized, "we think it's still very fragile."

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