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Bank of America has reported a $2bn (�1.2bn) profit for the three months to the end of 2011, compared with a $1.2bn loss in the same period in 2010.

It signals continued recovery for the US' second biggest lender.

For the full year, the company reported net profits of $1.4bn compared with a net loss of $2.2bn in 2010.

Meanwhile Morgan Stanley, the world's largest broker, reported a fourth-quarter loss of $250m compared with a profit of $836m a year earlier.

Despite the loss, the results at Morgan Stanley beat analysts' expectations since it was able to increase its share of the equity trading market in the period.

For the full year, Morgan Stanley said its net revenues were $32.4bn compared with $31.4bn in 2010.

Recent results from American banks have been mixed with Goldman Sachs announcing on Wednesday that it made 47% less in profits than in 2010 whilst Citigroup posted a 6% rise on the previous year.

Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said: "We enter 2012 stronger and more efficient after two years of simplifying and streamlining our company."

"Reflecting a gradually improving economy," continued Mr Moynihan, "we saw solid business activity by companies of all sizes, with commercial and industrial loan balances rising."

Bank of America was one of the worst performers on Dow Jones Industrial Average index of leading companies in 2011, losing 58% of its share value over the year.

The lender has been hit by lingering concerns about bad mortgage loans on its books in the wake of the 2008 sub-prime crisis when it was bailed out by the US government.

The bank has been building up its reserves, known as Tier 1 capital, to protect itself against the risk of further bad loans.

"Our fourth-quarter results reflect the aggressive steps we have been taking to strengthen the balance sheet and position the company for long-term growth," said chief financial officer Bruce Thompson in a statement.

"During the quarter, we significantly increased capital and liquidity. For 2012, our focus is to continue to build capital and liquidity and manage expenses."