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Big gain for GE, loss for Bank of America

General Electric Co. said Friday fourth-quarter net income increased 52 percent as the company made more money in its lending and industrial businesses.

Separately, Bank of America Corp., the largest U.S. bank, reported weaker-than-expected revenue and a second straight quarterly loss after its limping mortgage business triggered write-downs and legal settlements. It was the only major bank reporting a quarterly loss.

The bank posted revenue of $22.7 billion, below an expected $24.9 billion and down 11 percent from a year ago.

Its Merrill Lynch businesses - including retail brokerage and investment banking - were profitable but did not make enough to overcome the bank's massive losses from mortgages. The units earned $1.06 billion.

The bank took a write-down of $2 billion to recognize the declining value of Countrywide, once the country's biggest mortgage lender, and also set aside $4.1 billion for legal costs linked to home loans it is buying back from investors.

"Countrywide is still hurting them, and it will continue to. It's like a tooth being pulled - it's only going to feel good when it's done," said Matt McCormick, portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel Inc. in Cincinnati. Excluding the mortgage business write-down, the bank earned $756 million, or 4 cents per share.

Meanwhile, GE's lending arm, GE Capital, drove the company's fourth-quarter results as it dealt with fewer loan defaults.

GE, which makes products from dishwashers to wind turbines and finances large projects around the globe, said net income for the quarter rose to $4.46 billion, or 42 cents per share, from $2.94 billion, or 28 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue grew year-over-year for the first time in nine quarters, increasing 1 percent to $41.4 billion. Combined wire services

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