News Summary: Wells Fargo kicks off bank earnings

News Summary: Wells Fargo earnings shoot higher; mortgage slowdown unnerves investors

Associated Press

KICKING OFF EARNINGS: Wells Fargo reported fourth-quarter earnings Friday, the first of the U.S. megabanks to do so. Profits shot to a record, up 25 percent from a year ago. Revenue climbed 7 percent.

THE HOME FRONT: Wells Fargo is the country's biggest mortgage lender, and its results are a bellwether for the entire housing market. Mortgage originations were up slightly over the year, but they slowed compared to the record third quarter.

THE REFINANCE FORCE: Nearly three-quarters of the mortgage applications were from borrowers who want to refinance their homes. Federal Reserve policy is keeping interest rates extremely low.

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