Mellon Bank Corp. used securities gains and tax benefits to rocket into first place as the most profitable of the nation's 56 largest institutions during the third quarter, according to an American Banker ranking.

The Pittsburgh-based bank company led a pack of 25 super-regionals -- which as a group out-performed their money-center and smaller competitors. Combined with tax loss carryforwards, Mellon rewarded investors with a return on assets of 2.15% and a return on equity of 30.43% in the third quarter.

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