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Nov 24, 11:25 AM EST

US bank earnings rose 5.1 percent in July-September quarter

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US bank earnings rose 5.1 percent in July-September quarter

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. banks' earnings rose 5.1 percent in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, largely because of a drop in legal expenses for the largest financial services companies.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says that profits reached $40.4 billion, up from $38.4 billion in the third quarter of 2014.

The data illustrates the steady improvement in bank's health since the financial crisis in 2008. Nearly 60 percent of banks insured by the FDIC reported higher quarterly earnings compared with a year ago. The number of unprofitable banks fell to just 5 percent, down from 6.6 percent a year ago and the lowest in more than a decade.

Just one bank failed in the third quarter, a far cry from the two or three that failed each week in 2009.

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