Goldman Sachs Inc.'s (GS) fourth quarter earnings fell 53% from the year earlier hurt by lower revenue from market-making activity. The investment banking giant earned $2.23 billion, or $3.79 a share, after preferred dividends for the three months ended Dec. 31, down from $4.79 billion, or $8.20 a share, a year ago. Fourth quarter revenue decreased 10% to $8.64 billion from $9.6 billion a year earlier. Goldman said investment banking revenue of $1.51 billion was 10% lower than a year ago but 30% higher than the third quarter. The firm's underwriting revenue for the quarter decreased 12% from a year earlier to $879 million, "reflecting lower net revenues in both equity and debt underwriting, principally due to a decline in client activity." For the year, Goldman Sachs earned $7.7 billion, or $13.18 a share, down 37% from $12.19 billion, or $22.13 a share, for 2009. Revenue for the year fell 13% to $39.16 billion from $45.17 billion. "Market and economic conditions for much of 2010 were difficult, but the firm’s performance benefited from the strength of our global client franchise and the focus and commitment of our people," Chairman and CEO Lloyd C. Blankfein said. "Looking ahead, we are seeing signs of growth and more economic activity and we are well-positioned to help our clients expand their businesses, manage their risks and invest in the future." Write to Jason Philyaw.