Wells Fargo, the country’s biggest mortgage lender, reported record earnings for the fourth quarter Friday, beating analysts’ expectations for both profit and revenue. The bank made more loans, gained deposits and enjoyed above-average returns from the investments made by its private equity business.
Bank officials also sounded a positive note on their crucial mortgage unit. The housing market, said CEO John Stumpf, began “a steady rebound” in 2012. “There is no doubt,” he added, “that a corner was turned.” Wells Fargo said it funded $125 billion in mortgages in the fourth quarter, up from $120 billion in the same period a year ago. However, that was down from the record $139 billion it did in the third quarter.