Bloomberg -- Wells Fargo & Co., the largest U.S. home lender, said third-quarter profit climbed 13% to a record as fewer loan defaults and lower expenses helped overcome weakness in mortgage lending.

Net income advanced to $5.58 billion, or 99 cents a share, from $4.94 billion, or 88 cents, a year earlier, the San Francisco-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate of 33 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, excluding some items, was 97 cents a share. Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf, 60, is releasing loan- loss reserves set aside in earlier quarters as an improving economy and rising home prices make it easier for borrowers to repay. Wells Fargo cut thousands of mortgage jobs during the quarter to counter a slowdown in home-loan refinancings, which had helped drive three straight years of record profit.

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