WASHINGTON- The U.S. banking sector recorded $60.7 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2019, an increase in profit levels from the year prior, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

U.S. bank profits increased by $4.9 billion, an 8.7 percent jump compared to the first quarter of 2018. The FDIC said the profits were driven by higher net interest income.

The FDIC also reported that the number of "problem banks" had fallen from 60 to 59 in the first quarter, marking the lowest level of struggling institutions since the first quarter of 2007.

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama) ((Katanga.Johnson@thomsonreuters.com; 202-898-8403; Reuters Messaging: Katanga.Johnson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))