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Jan 13, 7:53 AM EST

Bank of America


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Bank of America

Bank of America's fourth-quarter profit jumped 47 percent from a year ago as the nation's largest consumer bank benefited from higher interest rates and lower expenses.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said it earned a profit of $4.34 billion after payments to preferred shareholders, or 40 cents per share, up from $2.95 billion, or 27 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. The results topped analysts' expectations, who were looking for 38 cents per share, according to FactSet.

In BofA's consumer banking division, the bank's largest business by profit and revenue, had net income of $1.92 billion in the quarter, compared with $1.74 billion in the same period a year earlier. The business had been helped by higher interest rates, as net interest income rose from $5.23 billion to $5.47 billion year over year.

Like many consumer banks, BofA struggled to grow profits for the last several years due to record low interest rates. Now that the Federal Reserve has started increasing rates, BofA can charge more for loans.

The Fed's most recent interest rate hike, in mid-December, will benefit BofA going forward.

"While the recent rise in interest rates came too late to impact fourth-quarter results, we expect to see a significant increase in net interest income in the first quarter of 2017," Paul Donofrio, BofA's chief financial officer, said in a statement.

The bank also benefited from the improving health of the U.S. consumer and businesses. The bank set aside less money for bad loans, and its net charge-off ratio, or the percent of loans that BofA considers unrecoverable, fell to 0.39 percent from 0.52 percent a year earlier.

BofA's global markets division also benefited in the quarter, following the stock market rally after the 2016 presidential election. Global markets had net income of $658 million, compared with $171 million in the same period a year earlier.

The nation's second-largest bank posted adjusted revenue was $19.99 billion, which missed Street forecasts. Seven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $20.62 billion.

On a full-year basis, BofA had a profit of $16.22 billion, or $1.50 per share, compared with $14.35 billion, or $1.31 per share, a year earlier. Revenue net of interest expense for 2016 was $83.70 billion, up modestly from $82.97 billion the previous year.

Bank of America shares rose 0.3 percent in early pre-market trading.

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This story was partially generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on BAC at https://www.zacks.com/ap/BAC

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