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by CareyBot

Bank of America Corp., the fifth-ranked U.S. mortgage lender by total volume, today reported its first profit decline in more than four years, citing consumer bankruptcies driving up loan losses and a weak trading quarter as causes. Net income for the fourth quarter of 2005 fell 2 percent to $3.77 billion, or 93 cents per share, from $3.85 billion, or 94 cents, a year earlier. Home equity production volume, one of the bright spots in the earnings report, increased 27 percent to a record $72 billion in 2005, the company said. Bank of America is one of the nation's leading home equity loan providers as measured by outstanding balances, according to the company. The earnings decline, the first since the third quarter of 2001, also resulted in part from narrower lending margins. Rising shor...