WASHINGTON-Commercial banks experienced record earnings during the second quarter of 2002, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Earnings in the second quarter totaled $23.4 billion, while return on assets rose to 1.41%, the second highest level ever recorded. Additionally, the FDIC reported that the number of commercial banks insured by the agency continued to decline to fewer than 8,000. During the second quarter, one commercial bank failed, 66 were merged, and 26 new banks filed financial reports. The number of “problem” banks increased as of the end of June to 115, up from 102 in the first quarter, but the assets of the troubled banks were down from $36.7 billion to $35.9 billion in the same time period. Banks have continued to see growth in the consumer lending arena, buoyed by low interest rates and prompting additional mortgage lending and refinancing. However, commercial lending has had a more difficult time.

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