The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency last week reported that national banks enjoyed $4.66 billion in profits in the third quarter of 1992, about $3 billion more than they posted during the third quarter of 1991.

The comptroller's office, which regulates banks with national charters, said national banks earned $13.03 billion in profits during the first three quarters of 1992, almost reaching the $13.61 billion that banks earned during all of the record-setting year of 1988.

Lower interest rates were cited as a major contributor to bank earnings, as the rates banks pay on deposits has fallen more than the rates they receive from loans and other investments.

The current interest rate environment also helped banks make large gains on sales of investment securities. According to the comptroller's office, national banks reported $1.84 billion in net securities gains during the first three quarters of 1992, the same amount reported for all of 1991.

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