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Wells Fargo CFO: Economy Has Encouraging Signs

The economy is not “out of the woods yet, but there are encouraging signs,” Howard Atkins, CFO of Wells Fargo, saidin an interview with CNBC.

“We have signs that we are getting close to the bottom,” Atkins told CNBC. “We’ve got very low interest rates that’s stimulating a lot of refinancing activity, but it’s also stimulating some home purchases. About 20 to 25 percent of our mortgage originations in the first quarter were for new homes.”

Confirming an early earnings release two weeks ago, Wells Fargo posted a record profit Wednesday of $3.05 billion in the first quarter.

The bank said that it was helped by its acquisition of Wachovia and a surge in the mortgage business.

“It was a record quarter, we had record profit, and record revenue growth," said Atkins in response to the profit news.

"We had good growth led by good mortgages. We had good overall credit quality in part because we’ve written off most of the bad loans of Wachovia when we did the acquisition in December,” said Atkins.

Atkins also said Wells Fargo is trying to focus on raising capital.

“We’re raising capital everyday by earning it,” he said. “That’s the focus of our company right now. The more earnings we can put on the books, the more we can keep the credit flowing in the economy which is what we’ve been doing. The rest will take care of itself.”