WASHINGTON — Banks were once again able to notch higher loan balances in the third quarter but — as in many past quarters — they largely made their money doing other things.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s health report on the industry showed a jump in noninterest income combined with a further drop in loan-loss provisions, which helped to drive another strong earnings performance. But banks' successes — including significantly higher gains from asset sales — highlighted just how far removed a lending recovery still is from the industry's growth.

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