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Bank health improves in third quarter

Dec. 21, 2010 |

The nation’s banks continued their slow return to health in the third quarter, according to reports filed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

With loan losses continuing to moderate, the 7,760 banks posted a quarterly profit of $14.5 billion, but it would have been much higher if Bank of America hadn’t booked a $10.1 billion loss as part of a writedown of the value of its credit card business.

For the second quarter in a row, troubled assets as calculated by the Investigative Reporting Workshop, fell. At the end of September they stood at $345.3 billion. Troubled assets peaked in the first quarter of this year, when they hit $382.1 billion.

The only category of troubled assets still growing is other real estate owned, which is primarily property the banks acquired through foreclosure. As of the end of September, banks had $46.9 billion worth of other real estate owned, a 21 percent increase since the first of the year.

A total of 397 banks had troubled assets greater than their capital and loan loss reserves at the end of the third quarter, the same number as June 30. That figure also peaked in the first quarter of this year, when it hit 411.

However, the FDIC, said the number of banks on its troubled list, which is does not disclose to the public, rose again to 860, the most since 1993.

Lending was essentially flat in the third quarter, with total loans outstanding of $7.16 trillion. 

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