US banks are ending the year with their best profits since 2006 and fewer failures than at any time since the 2008 financial crisis. They're helping support an economy slowed by high unemployment, flat pay, sluggish manufacturing and anxious consumers.
This year, the number of bank failures has dropped to 51. That's still well above the roughly five banks that close annually in healthier economies. But it's down from 92 failures last year, 157 in 2010 and 140 in 2009. (AP)