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Wells Fargo posts 2.5 billion 4th-quarter loss

Wells Fargo reported a fourth quarter loss of $2.55 billion. In the same quarter a year ago, the San Francisco-based bank reported earnings of $1.36 billion. Wells Fargo Chief Financial Officer Howard Atkins gave the latest results to shareholders in a pre-recorded statement this morning: "We took numerous actions in the fourth quarter to reduce the risk- or as we like to say 'de-risk'- the combined new balance sheet in preparation for the Wachovia acquisition. While some of these actions adversely impacted fourth quarter earnings, this de-risking will reduce the likelihood of losses in the future," he said. Both Wells Fargo and Wachovia set aside $21.7 billion to protect against credit losses. This covers against Wachovia's mounting losses from borrowers who are defaulting on mortgage payments. Wells Fargo also says for the quarter, it lost $294 million tied to investments with Bernie Madoff who faces federal charges on an alleged ponzi scheme that defrauded major investors of billions.