Goldman Sachs Traders Had Losses on 17 Days in Fourth Quarter

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the Wall Street bank that generated 60 percent of its revenue from trading last year, recorded losses from that business on 17 days in the fourth quarter, down from 21 days in the prior period.

The firm’s traders lost more than $100 million on two of those days, the New York-based company said yesterday in an annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. They produced more than $100 million on nine out of 63 total days in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, the filing showed.

Goldman Sachs, the fifth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, had trading losses on 54 days during 2011, the highest full-year total since 2008 and more than double last year’s number. Trading revenue fell 21 percent in 2011, contributing to a 47 percent drop in net earnings from a year earlier.

Morgan Stanley, the sixth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, said this week that its traders lost money on 22 days during the quarter and on 64 days in all of 2011.

Goldman Sachs’s traders lost money on 21 days during the third quarter, 15 days in the second quarter and one day in the first quarter, according to company reports. Goldman Sachs recorded zero trading losses in the first quarter of 2010, the only perfect quarter in the firm’s history.

Trading losses exceeded Goldman Sachs’s value-at-risk limit, a measure of how much the company estimates it could lose in the securities markets in a single day, once during the quarter, according to the filing. Average daily value-at-risk was $135 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, up from $102 million in the prior period, the firm reported on Jan. 18.

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