Morgan Stanley's (MS) first quarter income fell almost 50% from a year earlier, as lower trading revenue hurt earnings. The investment banking giant earned $736 million, or 50 cents a share, for the three months ended March 31 down from $1.41 billion, or 99 cents a share, last year. Results for the quarter include a tax gain of 30 cents a share and a loss of 26 cents a share from a joint venture in Japan. The company said first quarter revenue fell about 16.5% to $7.64 billion, including a loss of $425 million from the Japanese venture, from $9.07 billion a year ago. The institutional securities division reported first quarter pretax income from continuing operations of $397 million, which is down from $2.1 billion a year earlier. Revenue from fixed income and commodities sales and trading during the quarter decreased to $1.8 billion from $2.7 billion last year. Equity sales and trading revenue rose to $1.7 billion from $1.4 billion. Morgan Stanley said its Tier 1 capital ratio was about 16.7% with a Tier 1 common ratio of about 11.8% at March 31. "We continued to strengthen our client franchise and delivered solid results across many of our businesses," President and Chief Executive James P. Gorman said. "Our premier investment banking franchise remains a clear industry leader – maintaining our No. 1 ranking in global M&A in a robust deal market." Gorman said the company also reported its best results in equities since the financial crisis, saw significant improvement in fixed income and commodities activity from the prior quarter, and had positive flows across wealth management and asset management. Write to Jason Philyaw.