New York Community Bancorp said its fourth-quarter earnings slipped by 2 percent from a year earlier, as a decline in mortgage banking income outweighed an increase in net interest income.

The Westbury-based company, whose 273 locations in five states make it the largest bank based on Long Island, said Wednesday its net income for the three months ended Dec. 31 was $120.1 million or 27 cents a share, down from $122.8 million or 28 cents a share.

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Net interest income, the difference between the revenue generated from a bank's assets and the expenses associated with liabilities, rose by 2.5 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, to $297.3 million. But noninterest income fell by 30 percent to $38.8 million as mortgage banking income fell by more than half due to higher interest rates and a decline in refinancing activity.

Net interest margin, a measure of the difference between the interest a bank earns on its assets such as loans and the interest it pays out to depositors, declined 23 basis points, to 2.92 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

New York Community operates under its own name as well as Queens County Savings Bank, Roslyn Savings Bank, Richmond County Savings Bank, Roosevelt Savings Bank, Garden State Community Bank, Ohio Savings Bank, AmTrust Bank and Atlantic Bank.

Total assets were $46.7 billion at Dec. 31, 5.7 percent higher than a year earlier as loans increased.

President and chief executive Joseph R. Ficalora said, "Although mortgage banking income fell dramatically from the year-earlier level, the impact on our earnings was substantially tempered by the strength of our net interest income, which was supported by a record level of income from prepayment penalties." He also noted declines in nonperforming loans.