Wells Fargo Posts 16 Percent Rise in Yearly Profit

Nation's largest home lender boasts higher annual profits than JP Morgan for first time since 2009

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Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. mortgage provider, closed 2013 with higher annual profits than JP Morgan, the nation’s largest bank, for the first time since 2009, according to fourth quarter earnings posted Tuesday.

The fourth largest bank in the U.S. saw earnings rise 10 percent in the fourth quarter to $5.61 billion, from $5.09 billion a year earlier. Annual profit rose 16 percent to a record $21.9 billion, surpassing JP Morgan’s $17.9 billion.

Wells Fargo provided 1 in 5 mortgages in 2013, and has benefited from record low mortgage rates that have prompted a wave of refinancing, Bloomberg News reports. With rates rising as the Federal Reserve plans to ease stimulus policies, the bank has also moved to downsize operations and reduce costs. CEO John Stumpf announced 6,225 job cuts in the second half of 2013, Bloomberg reports.

The San Francisco-based bank has also been slapped with fewer legal costs than some of its banking peers. In the first nine months of 2013, the company paid  $413 million in legal expenses, Bloomberg reports; J.P. Morgan last year paid out roughly $20 billion to settle regulatory and legal probes.

Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., the nation’s second and third largest banks, are expected to report fourth quarter earnings later this week.