(REUTERS) -- Wells Fargo & Co reported higher fourth-quarter earnings as the bank set aside less money to cover bad loans.

The fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets said net income applicable to common shareholders was $3.89 billion, or 73 cents per share, compared to $3.2 billion, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting By Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, North Carolina, editing by Dave Zimmerman)