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Business Sinks at SunTrust

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Quarterly residential fundings at SunTrust Bank have fallen by more than half over the past year and are likely headed even lower. But residential holdings held up as a result of nearly $0.5 billion in repurchases. The company continued to cut its quarterly losses.

In its first-quarter earnings report, SunTrust Banks Inc. said it originated $5.6 billion in home loans. Volume sank from $8.4 billion the prior quarter and was less than half of the $13.4 billion funded in the first-quarter 2009.

Mortgage brokers generated nearly one-quarter of production during the latest period, while correspondent mortgage bankers were responsible for 18 percent. Retail activity accounted for 58 percent.

Refinances represented 61 percent of the latest activity.

Originations are likely to fall further based on first-quarter applications, which declined to $9.9 billion from $11.9 billion.

SunTrust said it serviced $178.0 billion in mortgages at the end of the latest period, edging down from $178.9 billion on Dec. 31. Third-party servicing accounted for $146.0 billion.

Residential mortgage holdings were just over $30.8 billion on March 31, edging up from just under $30.8 billion three months earlier. Home-equity line-of-credit assets eased to $15.7 billion from $16.0 billion.

In a the investor presentation, SunTrust noted that the company re-purchased $493 million in FHA-insured loans from Ginnie Mae securities.

Real-estate construction loans fell to $5.8 billion from $6.6 billion. Commercial mortgage holdings rose to $15.3 billion from $15.1 billion.

SunTrust had a $161 million first-quarter loss, improving from the $248 million fourth-quarter loss and an $815 million loss a year earlier.

Headcount finished March at 28,263, higher than 28,001 at the end of December.

Branch count was 1,678.

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