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Legal costs sap Citigroup earnings

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Citigroup’s fourth-quarter earnings fell short of Wall Street’s expectations as the bank’s legal expenses rose and it released less money from its loan-loss reserves.

The bank, based in New York, said a big chunk of the legal expenses came from a settlement reached last week over illegal foreclosure practices in the aftermath of the housing bust.

It was Citigroup’s first quarter under the leadership of CEO Michael Corbat, who took the helm after former CEO Vikram Pandit resigned abruptly in October.

Corbat’s first bold move was a decision, announced in December, to cut 11,000 jobs, close dozens of branches and trim its consumer banking business in some countries. More than half of the job cuts were to come from the company’s consumer banking unit.

Citi earned $1.16 billion after paying preferred dividends, or 38 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with $933 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

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