Spain's BBVA posts Q4 loss after US writedown

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MADRID (AP) — A big U.S. accounting adjustment saw Spanish bank BBVA post a fourth quarter loss, the company said Thursday.

Spain's second-largest bank by market capitalization said it made a euro139 million ($183 million) loss in the fourth quarter as a result of a euro1.01 billion writedown in the value of its U.S. business. In the fourth quarter of 2010, the bank posted a euro939 million profit.

The turnaround in the fourth quarter performance was largely to blame for a 34.8 percent slide in the bank's 2011 profit to euro3.00 billion ($3.95 billion).

Gross income was euro20.6 billion ($27.1 billion), down 1.6 percent from euro21 billion in 2010. It increased by 10 percent to euro5.5 billion in the last quarter compared to the same period in 2010.

The bank said its bad loan rate was down to 4 percent, compared to 4.1 percent at the end of the third quarter. Loan-loss provisions were up euro182 million ($240 million) in the fourth quarter, almost double that at the end of the previous quarter.

Spain is expected to fall back into recession this quarter. A near two-year recession that it began to emerge from in 2010 has left the country with a swollen deficit and an unemployment rate of 23 percent, the highest in the 17-nation eurozone.

The bank said it would be easily able to comply with the requirement from the European Banking Authority to shore up its core capital base to 9 percent by June 2012 without selling strategic assets.

The bank's shares were up 0.9 percent at euro6.95 in midmorning trading in Madrid on Thursday.

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