Norwest Mortgage Inc., Des Moines, earned a record $30.4 million in the first quarter, 44% more than a year earlier.

The rise from the fourth quarter was 3.4%.

The Norwest Inc. subsidiary originated $11.7 billion of mortgages in the first quarter, 154% more than a year earlier and 7.4% more than in the fourth quarter.

Its servicing portfolio totaled $112.1 billion on March 31, 4.4% more than at yearend.

Norwest Mortgage plans to close on its purchase of Prudential Home Mortgage Co. in the second quarter, in a transaction that would increase servicing assets by about $40 billion. The deal would make Norwest the nation's largest servicer.

It is already the largest retail originator and trailed Countrywide Credit Industries in overall loan volume by a slim margin at the end of last year.

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