Bank of America posts $5.2 billion loss

Bank of America Corp. executives today said massive loan losses that have mauled profits over the past two years appear to have peaked, but they remained cautious about the pace of the nation's economic recovery.

"While things are improving, the U.S. economy remains fragile," Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said in his first earnings conference call since replacing Ken Lewis as CEO on Jan. 1.

Capping a tumultuous year that included Lewis' early departure, the Charlotte-based bank reported a fourth-quarter loss applicable to common shareholders of $5.2 billion, a figure that included dividends paid to the government and a charge related to the bank's exit from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The loss more than doubled the $2.4 billion in red ink the bank spilled in the fourth quarter of 2008.

For all of 2009, Bank of America lost $2.2 billion, counting preferred dividends, compared to a gain of $2.6 billion in 2008. Excluding the dividend payments, the bank posted net income of $6.3 billion in 2009, an improvement over the $4 billion it made in 2008.

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