FDIC-insured institutions earned $35.3 billion in first quarter

Commercial banks and savings institutions insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported an aggregate profit of $35.3 billion in the first quarter, up $6.6 billion from the same period a year earlier.

Earnings have increased year-over-year for 11 consecutive quarters.

Loan balances decreased by $56.3 billion, a 0.8 percent decline, after three consecutive quarterly increases.

“The overall decline in loan balances is disappointing after we saw three quarters of growth last year,´ said Acting FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said. “But we should be cautious in drawing conclusions from just one quarter.”

Lower provisions for loan losses and higher non-interest income were responsible for most of the year-over-year improvement in earnings. First-quarter loss provisions totaled $14.3 billion, almost 30 percent less than the $20.9 billion set aside for losses in the first quarter of 2011.

The number of banks on the FDIC’s “problem” list decreased from 813 to 772, the smallest number since year-end 2009. Sixteen insured institutions failed in the first quarter, the smallest number of failures in a quarter since the fourth quarter of 2008, when 12 institutions failed.

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