LOS ANGELES — First-quarter profits tripled for the nation’s banking industry as big banks recovered their footing, the government reported Thursday.

But the news was not all good for the industry. Troubles at smaller lenders swelled the number of problem banks to nearly 10 percent of all institutions, according to the report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The agency said that 775 institutions — most of them community banks — were on its list of troubled banks as of March 31, up from 702 at year-end.

That was the most since 1,066 in 1992, as the savings and loan crisis played out.

The number peaked at 2,165 in 1987, but there were about twice as many U.S. banks and thrifts then, according to an FDIC spokesman.


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