WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. bank earnings rose to a record-high $154.7 billion in 2013, and fourth-quarter earnings also climbed as banks reduced the funds they set aside in case of losses and for litigation expenses.
Data released on Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC) showed bank earnings in the fourth quarter of 2013 at $40.3 billion, up $5.8 billion, or 16.9 percent, from the same period in 2012.
That was despite a year-over-year operating revenue decline of $2.8 billion, or 1.7 percent, for the quarter that ended in December. The drop was due to a dip in mortgage lending and lower trading income, the FDIC said.
“The industry continues to experience difficulty growing revenue,” FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said in a statement. “The industry remains dependent on declining loan-loss provisions to generate earnings improvement.”
U.S. banks reduced loan-loss reserves by $8.1 billion, or 53.7 percent, during the fourth quarter. They also cut the amount set aside for future litigation costs.
Earnings for the full year of 2013 rose $13.6 billion, or 9.6 percent, compared to 2012.
Only two banks failed during the fourth quarter, the FDIC said, the smallest number of failed banks since the second quarter of 2008. (Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Andrea Ricci)