Barclays Plc said its first quarter profit rose 15 percent from a year ago as strong growth at its investment bank arm made up for a big jump in bad debts.

Trading in April had been generally consistent with the overall trend for February and March after an exceptional January, Britain's third biggest bank said.

Barclays reported a pretax profit of 1.37 billion pounds for the January-March quarter, up from 1.19 billion a year ago. Profits at Barclays Capital jumped 361 percent to 907 million, driven by growth in the United States after last year's acquisition of Lehman Brothers' U.S. operations.

Impairment charges and other credit provisions jumped to 2.31 billion pounds from 1.29 billion. About half of that rise was due to growth and currency movements and half was due to a worsening economy and maturation of loans, it said.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; editing by John Stonestreet)