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Performance Sours at Regions

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Mortgage earnings improved from the prior quarter at Regions Bank. But home loan production plummeted, mortgage holdings dropped and delinquency rose.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based bank originated $1.4 billion in mortgages during the first quarter, according to earnings data reported today by parent Regions Financial Corp. Volume tumbled from $2.0 billion during the prior quarter and $2.8 billion in the first-quarter 2009.

The decline in volume occurred as refinance share dropped from around 83 percent a year ago to 55 percent in the first quarter.

Residential first-mortgages holdings moved just under $15.6 billion from just over $15.6 billion at the end of 2009 and $15.7 billion on March 31, 2009. Home-equity loan holdings also moved lower — to $15.1 billion from $15.4 billion the prior quarter and $16.0 billion the prior year.

Commercial mortgage holdings finished last month at $33.8 billion, falling from $34.4 billion on Dec. 31 and $35.8 billion a year ago. Loans secured by investor commercial real estate declined to $20.4 billion from $21.7 billion the previous quarter and $23.6 billion the previous year.

Residential delinquency of at least 90 days rose to 2.34 percent from 2.31 percent on Dec. 31 and 2.29 percent 12 months earlier. The HEL rate rose to 1.65 percent from the prior quarter’s 1.57 percent and the prior year’s 1.52 percent.

Commercial mortgage delinquency improved to 0.05 percent from the fourth quarter’s 0.13 percent and 0.19 percent in March 2009. The rate on investor commercial mortgages nearly doubled from the fourth quarter to 0.27 percent but was better than 0.43 percent the previous year.

Mortgage earnings climbed to $67 million from the fourth-quarter’s $46 million. But income was lower than the first-quarter 2009’s $73 million.

Regions had an $0.4 billion first-quarter loss before taxes, narrowing from $0.8 billion three months earlier. But earnings were worse than an $0.4 billion profit one year earlier.

Regions employed 28,213 people at the end of last month, fewer than 28,509 at the end of last year. Headcount stood at 30,613 at the end of the first-quarter last year.

The company operated 1,774 branch outlets, declining from the first quarter’s 1,895.

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