UPDATE 1-CME Group's Q4 profit soars on $2.6 bln tax gain

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Feb 1 (Reuters) - CME Group Inc, the world's largest futures exchange, said on Thursday its fourth-quarter profit surged due to a $2.6 billion benefit related to the U.S. tax overhaul.

Net income rose to $2.94 billion, or $8.63 per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, from $373.4 million, or $1.10 per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, CME reported earnings of $1.12 per share. Analysts on average expected earnings of $1.09, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. It was not immediately clear if the numbers were comparable.

Total revenue fell to $900 million from $912.9 million, a year earlier.

The company, which owns the Chicago Board of Trade and other futures exchanges, said 2018 has started "strong" with average daily volume up more than 15 percent to date, driven by broad-based strength across its asset classes.

Average daily trading volume fell 2 percent to 15.9 million contracts in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.

In December, Illinois-based CME along with rival CBOE Global Markets Inc started trading in bitcoin futures contracts. Nasdaq Inc also plans to introduce bitcoin futures, though a definitive timeline is not known. (Reporting by Pallavi Dewan and Taenaz Shakir in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Supriya Kurane)