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Trafigura earned record $1.1 bln in 2011: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Commodities trader Trafigura's profits soared nearly two-thirds to a record over $1 billion this year, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing a note to bondholders.

The secretive firm, one of the world's top three traders of metals and oil, reported net profits of $1.11 billion in the fiscal year through September, up from $690 million in 2010 and a previous record $837 million in 2009, the FT said.

While Trafigura's chief executive Claude Dauphin cited "prolonged volatility" as a key driver, the Swiss-based trader's performance is notable given tough times for many players such as Cargill and Goldman Sachs , both of which reported rough quarters during a tumultuous year.

The FT said Trafigura had declined to comment.

"We will look back to 2011 as a year in which we played a leadership role in decisively balancing global supply and demand for raw materials," Dauphin said in the note to bondholders, according to the FT. He noted that the war in Libya, the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt and Japan's tsunami had roiled markets.

But he sounded a cautious note on the outlook.

"As we look ahead to 2012 we know the recovery of European and U.S. economies will be, at best, slow in light of harsh fiscal austerity measures and bruised banking systems," Dauphin said in the note. He added that "the immediate future for emerging economies however is somewhat more dynamic".

The FT said Trafigura's oil trading volume rose 15 percent from the previous year to 2.3 million barrels per day, while base metals trading rose 26 percent to 11 million tons.

Its operating profit surged 141 percent to $1.25 billion and revenues jumped to $121.5 billion from $79.2 billion, the FT said.

Trafigura traces its roots back to a band of commodity traders who split from Marc Rich & Co in 1993, as the trading house morphed into Glencore , the biggest trader in the world. The FT said Dauphin owns less than 20 percent of Trafigura, with the rest controlled by 500 senior employees.

While it was initially renowned primarily for its trading prowess, like many of its rivals Trafigura has recently stepped up investment in critical infrastructure, including a growing string of oil depots and gasoline stations across Africa and the Caribbean and an aluminum and bauxite terminal in Louisiana.

(Writing by Jonathan Leff; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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