The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reports that brokerage firm profits in the first quarter rose slightly.

NYSE firms that deal with the public reported collective first quarter after-tax profits of $4.3 billion (US dollars) and revenues of approximately $43.4 billion, which is up a bit from the $4.1 billion profit on revenues of about $41 billion recorded in the fourth quarter of 2012, the exchange said.

However, profits are down slightly from the same quarter a year ago, when NYSE firms generated $4.7 billion in after-tax profits, albeit on modestly lower revenues of $42.0 billion. In the first quarter of this year, expenses were up to $36.8 billion, compared with $34.8 billion in the same period last year, and $34.7 billion in the fourth quarter.

Commission revenues rebounded a bit in the first quarter of this year, rising to $5.7 billion from $5.4 billion last quarter. Still, this is down from over $6.0 billion in commission revenues in Q1 2012.

Also, the number of firms reporting data is down to 164 in the latest quarter from 169 a year ago. And, the number of profitable firms is down to 113 from 116, but this is up notably from just 91 profitable firms in the fourth quarter.

Moreover, the 74 unprofitable firms in the fourth quarter reported a collective loss of $1.25 billion, which dropped sharply in the first quarter to just $201 million. At the same time, the collective profits of firms in the black is down to $6.8 billion in the latest quarter from $7.6 billion in the previous quarter.