Wells Fargo Bank said Friday that strong loan growth, especially in mortgages and improved credit quality, helped boost its third quarter bottom line by 22 percent over the previous year. The second US bank, after JP Morgan Chase, to cite the rebounding home mortgage business for its quarterly gains, Well Fargo said net earnings for the three months to September 30 were $4.94 billion, compared to $4.06 billion a year before. Earnings per share rose to 88 cents from 72 cents, slightly better than analysts had forecast. \"In the third quarter, core loans grew by $11.9 billion and we saw continued strength in our mortgage and deposit businesses,\" said chief executive John Stumpf. \"We remained diligent in managing costs and continued to have strong underlying credit performance as our loss mitigation efforts and the low interest rate environment helped improve affordability for our customers.\" A 13 percent fall in loan loss provisioning also underscored the year-on-year gain, reflecting the improving economy, the bank said. \"Underlying credit quality continued to show improvement in the third quarter, as the overall financial condition of businesses and consumers strengthened, the housing market in many areas of the nation improved, and we continued to work to reduce problem assets and make new, high quality loans,\" said chief risk officer Mike Loughlin. \"Absent significant deterioration in the economy, we continue to expect future reserve releases,\" he added.