Bank of America is hiring 5,000 employees to handle rising demand for mortgage refinancings, the company said Monday in announcing a $4.2 billion first-quarter profit. That's up from $1.2 billion in the same quarter a year ago, and more than the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank made in all of 2008. Bank of America is still struggling to digest its acquisitions of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch, however. Provisions for credit losses hit $13.4 billion, up from $8.5 billion during the fourth quarter, and nonperforming assets ballooned from $18.2 billion the end of 2008 to $25.7 billion. Net revenue in the home loans and insurance division nearly quadrupled, to $5.2 billion, largely because of the Countrywide acquisition and consumer demand for refinancing at lower interest rates, Bank of America said. Bank of America said it funded $85.2 billion in residential mortgages during the first quarter -- about 382,000 loans -- but that three in four were for refinancings rat...
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