Wall Street profit may hit $19 billion in 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street may earn $19 billion in 2010, its fourth-most profitable year, even as regulatory changes and a weakened economy limits its ability to generate profit, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

In a report released Tuesday, DiNapoli said profit might decline 69 percent from last year’s record $61.4 billion, but may have settled near levels more in line with pre-crisis amounts.

DiNapoli said Wall Street broker-dealer operations had lost $54 billion in 2007 and 2008, but have benefited from a series of federal bailouts as well as low interest rates.

“Wall Street is adjusting to regulatory reforms and learning how to do business in the new financial reality,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

Wall Street profits topped $20 billion in both 2000 and 2006, as well as in 2009, according to DiNapoli’s report.

The comptroller said it is too soon to determine year-end bonus payouts. Bonuses totaled $20.3 billion in 2009, up 17 percent from a year earlier, he said.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York