Bank of America profit falls on lower bond trading revenue

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, reported a 14 percent fall in quarterly profit as revenue from fixed-income trading fell.

Bond trading revenue plunged 21 percent to $1.5 billion.

BofA, like much of Wall Street, was hit by a sharp spike in market volatility in December that discouraged many investors from taking positions.

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JPMorgan Chase reported a decline of 14 percent in quarterly bond trading revenue on Wednesday.

Total revenue fell 13 percent to $18.73 billion, excluding accounting adjustments.

BofA's shares were down nearly 3 percent in premarket trading on Thursday. (Get the latest quote here.)

Net income attributable to common shareholders fell to $2.74 billion, or 25 cents per share, in the fourth quarter from $3.18 billion, or 29 cents per share, a year earlier.

The bank had adjusted earnings of 32 cents per share, according to calculations by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

On that basis, analysts on average had estimated earnings of 31 cents per share.

Overall fixed-income trading has been on a decline since 2009, largely due to new rules that discourage banks from taking unnecessary risks.

Several big banks have scaled back their trading operations or quit the business.

BofA has been hit by high legal costs since the financial crisis, which have been undermining the cost-cutting initiatives introduced by Chief Executive Brian Moynihan.

"In 2014, we continued to invest in our businesses while reducing expenses and resolving our most significant litigation matters," Moynihan said in a statement.

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BofA's legal expenses fell to $393 million, suggesting the worst may be behind the bank in terms of legal costs to resolve regulatory probes linked to home loans, mortgage bonds and other issues in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

The bank's legal costs totaled $2.3 billion a year earlier and $5.6 billion in the third quarter. BofA has agreed to pay at least $70 billion in fines and settlements since 2010.

The bank agreed to pay a record $16.65 billion in August to resolve U.S. Department of Justice charges that it and companies it bought misled investors into buying troubled mortgage-backed securities.