Tuesday, November 29, 2016

U.S. Banks Report Record Profit in Third Quarter
Banks rank in huge profits, cities like Detroit remain devastated.
Institutions’ profits soared and expenses moderated

The U.S.’s commercial banks and savings institutions reported a 13% rise in net income in the third quarter, the FDIC said. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wall Street Journal
Nov. 29, 2016 10:49 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The nation’s commercial banks and savings institutions reported a 13% rise in net income in the third quarter, hitting a record as institutions’ profits soared and expenses moderated.

Net income at the 5,980 banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. rose $5.2 billion, to $45.6 billion, in the third quarter, compared with a year earlier, according to data released Tuesday by the FDIC.

“The banking industry reported another positive quarter,” said FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg. “Revenue and net income were up from a year ago, loan balances increased, asset quality improved, and the number of unprofitable and ‘problem banks’ continued to fall.”

The rise in net income was due in part to a $10 billion increase in net interest income, up 9.2% from a year earlier, and a $1.2 billion gain in noninterest income, a 1.9% increase as trading revenue improved at large banks. One-time accounting and expense items at three institutions also had an impact on the growth of income, the agency said.

Still, Mr. Gruenberg cautioned banks continue to operate in a “challenging environment.” Low interest rates for an extended period have led some institutions to reach for yield, increasing their exposures to interest rate risk, liquidity risk, and credit risk, he said.

“These challenges will only intensify as interest rates normalize,” said Mr. Gruenberg. “Banks must manage risks prudently to ensure that growth is on a long-run, sustainable path.”

During the third quarter, ended Sept. 30, more than half of banks reported year-over-year growth and less than 5% of banks said they were unprofitable. It was the lowest percentage of unprofitable banks since the third quarter of 1997.

Community banks, which account for 5,521 of the insured institutions, in particular reported a positive quarter with their net income rising $593 million, or 11.8% from the 2015 period.

Community banks’ net operating revenue totaled $23 billion, up 8.5% from a year earlier. Loan growth was led by commercial real estate, residential mortgages and commercial and industrial loans.

“Community banks, which account for 43% of the industry’s small loans to businesses, continued to grow their small business loans at a faster pace than the rest of the industry,” said Mr. Gruenberg.

The number of financial institutions on the FDIC’s “problem list” shrank to 132 from 147 the year before, the fewest number of institutions since the third quarter of 2008. There were two bank failures in the latest quarter.

The federal fund that protects consumers’ U.S. bank deposits grew $2.8 billion during the third quarter to $80.7 billion. Its insurance fund reserve ratio rose to 1.18% of the institutions’ estimated insured deposits.

Write to Donna Borak at donna.borak@wsj.com

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