Strong results from capital markets operations helped boost fourth- quarter earnings at several large banks reporting Wednesday.
BankAmerica Corp., the nation's fourth-biggest bank, posted profits of $812 million, a 9% rise, thanks in part to fees and commissions generated by its recently acquired investment bank Robertson Stephens & Co.
First Union Corp. also got a big lift from capital markets. But, because of the company's November acquisition of Signet Banking Corp., net earnings collapsed 27% from the year-earlier period, to $362 million.
"We're still feeling very good about two areas-capital management and capital markets-that really kicked in," said Robert T. Atwood, First Union's chief financial officer. "The highlight for the year is, we continue to build those nuclear engines."
Republic New York Corp. said its quarterly earnings rose 7%, to $116 million, bolstered by foreign exchange trading and gains on securities and loans held for sale.
And at CoreStates Financial Corp., which agreed in November to sell to First Union, extraordinary items helped push fourth-quarter income up 11%, to $217 million. Excluding the gains, CoreStates would have suffered a 1.5% decline.
Washington Mutual Inc., which reported earnings late Tuesday, posted profits of $238 million, compared to a loss of $82.8 …