Economy Gaining: Morning Business Memo

More solid evidence of the economic recovery. Banks are lending more. According to a new FDIC report, US bank lending during the last quarter of 2011 rose by the largest amount in four years. This survey confirms other reports of a rise in lending by banks. The FDIC says the banking industry posted a $119 billion profit for 2011 - up 40 percent from the previous year and the largest profit since 2006, when employment and the economy was stronger than it is now.

Much of the lending growth is coming regional banks. This morning The Dow Jones index opens above 13,000 for the first time since the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008. Markets rose yesterday after the Conference Board said consumer confidence rose in February. A fresh sign of growth may come this morning with the release the government's estimate of 4th quarter gross domestic product - GDP.

What's ahead for the iPad 3? A faster tablet with a much better camera and improved screen resolution is expected to be unveiled next week by Apple in San Francisco. The iPad 3 will take on increased competition in the tablet market from Amazon and other players. "With any luck, we'll see the front-facing camera bumped up to HD quality," says the website CNET. The iPad 3 could be Apple's first 4G compatible device.

Better times for the auto industry and its employees. General Motors is likely to spend more than $500 million on employee bonuses and profit-sharing based on the company's performance last year. GM made a record profit in 2011 and will pay bonuses of at least $182 million to white-collar workers such as engineers, car designers and managers. That's on top of $332.5 million in profit-sharing it already agreed to pay factory workers. Past payments have drawn criticism from opponents of the auto industry bailouts. But GM says the payments are needed to hold on to skilled employees.

Wells Fargo and Goldman Sachs say they may face federal enforcement action by the Securities and Exchange Commission related to mortgage-backed securities. Wells says government regulators continue to investigate its mortgage related practices

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio

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