Goldman Sachs posts earnings of $4.68 a share vs $3.53 expected

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Goldman Sachs profit slumped for the third straight quarter as a $5 billion settlement of crisis-era legal claims ate into earnings in a tumultuous three months.

Goldman, the last of the big U.S. banks to release fourth-quarter earnings, reported a 71.8 percent fall in net income applicable to common shareholders to $574 million, or $1.27 per share, from $2.03 billion, or $4.38 per share, a year earlier.

The company posted quarterly adjusted earnings of $4.68 a share, compared to $4.38 a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue for the quarter came in at $7.27 billion, against the comparable year-ago figure of $7.69 billion.

Morgan Stanley headquarters in Times Square, New York.
Morgan Stanley profit tops expectations

Analysts had expected Goldman Sachs to report adjusted earnings of about $3.53 a share on $7.07 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

The bank said last week that the settlement would reduce earnings in the quarter by $1.5 billion after taxes.

Goldman Sach's results come amid a string of bank earnings over the past several weeks. Bank of America topped Wall Street's expectations Tuesday, as did Morgan Stanley. However, JPMorgan Chase last week reported a 6.6 percent drop in quarterly profit as legal costs exceeded $1 billion in the wake of government probes, leading Chief Executive Jamie Dimon to claim banks were "under assault."

The new year has also started on a grim note, with oil prices falling to their lowest in 13 years and stock prices dropping sharply around the world.

Goldman Sachs shares were trading near their 52-week low on Tuesday after the broader market has suffered a rocky start to the year.

In September, Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein revealed that he is fighting lymphoma. Blankfein, 61, planned to "work substantially as normal, leading the firm" while undergoing treatment. The veteran Wall Street boss, who steered the U.S. investment bank through the financial crisis, has kept a fairly low profile since his diagnosis.

Reuters contributed to this report.