WASHINGTON — A surge in bank earnings at the end of last year made 2011 the most profitable time for the industry in five years. More earnings and fewer troubled banks suggest the industry has healed since the 2008 financial crisis.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says bank earnings rose in the October-December quarter to $26.3 billion. That's 23 percent higher than earnings in the final quarter of 2010. About 63 percent of banks reported improved earnings. Only 19 percent were unprofitable.
For the year, earnings hit $119.5 billion _ the most since 2006.
The number of banks on the FDIC's confidential "problem" list fell in the fourth quarter to 813, or around 11 percent of all federally insured banks. That compares with 844 troubled banks in the previous quarter.
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