BlackRock Inc, the world's largest money manager, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, benefiting from strong markets and a flow of new money into its exchange-traded funds and retail business.

The New York-based asset manager ended the fourth quarter through December 31 with $4.3 trillion in assets, including new money and market gains, surpassing the $4 trillion mark for the first time last year.

That asset growth helped drive BlackRock's 24-percent gain in quarterly profit to $841 million, or $4.86 per share, up from $690 million, or $3.93 per share, a year earlier.

BlackRock and its peers make money by charging fees as a percentage of assets under management.

BlackRock shares jumped 4.2 percent in early trading to $325.98 on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock surged 53 percent in 2013, riding an equity market rally that also boosted its peers.

The company said its board had approved a 15 percent increase in its quarterly cash dividend to $1.93 per common share, payable in March.

Excluding long-term compensation expenses and other items, earnings were $4.92 a share, above analysts' average forecast of $4.33, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue grew 9 percent to $2.8 billion. Revenue generated by fees based on a portfolio's performance rose 2 percent to $268 million from a year earlier.

iShares, Retail

BlackRock has benefited from increased investor appetite for the less-expensive indexed funds provided by iShares, which the company acquired from Barclays in 2009 and is now the largest U.S. provider of ETFs. IShares makes up 21 percent of the company's assets under management.