Profits at U.S. banks rose 17 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 from a year earlier, as losses on loans declined to a seven-year low and banks set aside less money to cover losses and legal costs. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) reported Wednesday that the banking industry recorded profits of $40.3 billion in the October-December period, up from $34.4 billion in the same quarter of 2012. For all of last year, bank profits increased 9.6 percent to what the U.S. agency calls a record annual level of $154.7 billion. The FDIC data provides new evidence of the banking industry’s sustained recovery more than five years after the 2008 financial crisis. Still, the agency said banks continue to have difficulty increasing revenues, and they are supporting profits primarily by setting aside less for loan losses.