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Economy Briefs: Earnings rose 21 percent in 2nd quarter, lending up

- - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

U.S. bank earnings rose 21 percent in the April-June quarter and lending to consumers increased, adding to evidence that the industry is strengthening four years after the financial crisis.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Tuesday that the banking industry earned $34.5 billion in the second quarter, up from $28.5 billion in the second quarter of 2011.

About 63 percent of U.S. banks reported improved earnings as they were able to set aside less for losses on loans. And the number of troubled banks fell for the fifth straight quarter.

Bank loans to consumers increased in most categories, including credit card loans and home mortgages, reversing a first-quarter decline.

"The industry continues to recover at a gradual but steady pace," FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said at a news conference.

Still, the gains in revenue remain "sluggish," Mr. Gruenberg said. Total revenue increased only $1.3 billion — a slim 0.8 percent — in the second quarter from a year earlier.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. reported second-quarter net income of $5 billion, or $1.21 per share, down from $5.4 billion, or $1.27 per share, a year earlier.

PENNSYLVANIA

Papers in Pa., N.Y. cut publication to 3 days a week

HARRISBURG — Newspapers in Harrisburg, Pa., and Syracuse, N.Y., announced Tuesday they will switch to a three-days-a-week publication schedule in January as their corporate owner continues its shift away from daily printed papers.

At the Post-Standard of Syracuse, editor and publisher Stephen Rogers told employees that newspapers' economic model has become unviable. The Post-Standard will publish on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

"If we simply maintain the status quo, if we continue to do just what we have been doing — no matter how well we do it — the Post-Standard would face extinction in a matter of years," Mr. Rogers said. "This is an irreversible trend. We either adjust, or we perish."

At the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, which won a Pulitzer Prize this year for its coverage of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse case at Penn State, there will be an expansion of around-the-clock news coverage online, publisher John Kirkpatrick said.

The newspaper will continue to publish on Sundays; the other two days have not been determined.

REAL ESTATE

Home prices post first 12-month gain since '10

U.S. home prices rose in June from the same month last year, the first year-over-year increase since the summer of 2010. The increase is the latest evidence of a nascent recovery in the housing market.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index released Tuesday shows a gain of 0.5 percent from June 2011.

The last time the year-over-year index increased was in September 2010. For much of that 12-month period, the government was offering a home-buying tax credit.

The report also shows that all 20 cities tracked by the index rose in June from May, the second consecutive time in which every city posted month-over-month gains. And all but two cities posted stronger gains in June than May.

Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta recorded the biggest one-month gains.

The S&P/Case-Shiller monthly index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. It measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The June figures are the latest available.

The increases partly reflect the impact of seasonal buying. The month-to-month prices aren't adjusted for seasonal factors.

From wire dispatches and staff reports