Deposit costs decreased by four basis points in the first quarter compared to the preceding quarter and 21 basis points compared to the first quarter a year ago. Total funding costs for the first quarter of 2013 decreased four basis points compared to the preceding quarter and 27 basis points from the first quarter a year ago. Asset yields were unchanged compared to the preceding quarter and decreased 24 basis points from the first quarter a year ago. However, loan yields decreased by eight basis points compared to the preceding quarter and decreased 26 basis points from the first quarter a year ago. Nonaccrual loans reduced the margin by approximately four basis points in the first quarter of 2013 compared to approximately six basis points in the preceding quarter and approximately 13 basis points in the first quarter of 2012. Securities yields decreased by seven basis points compared to the preceding quarter and were 14 basis points lower than the first quarter of 2012.
Banner's first quarter net interest income, before the provision for loan losses, was $41.0 million, compared to $41.5 million in the first quarter a year ago, as the increase in the net interest margin was offset by a modest decrease in the average balance of interest-earning assets and the effect of one additional day in the first quarter of 2012 which was a leap year. In spite of the modest increase in the net interest margin, net interest income also decreased from $41.9 million in the immediately preceding quarter, largely reflecting the fewer number of days in the current quarter and expected seasonal decreases in agricultural loan balances and non-interest-bearing deposits.
Continuing homeowner refinance activity, as well as increased home purchase transactions, contributed to revenues from mortgage banking activities, which increased 15% to $2.8 million compared to $2.5 million in the first quarter a year ago, but declined compared to $3.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 when homeowner refinance activity was at its peak. Deposit fees and other service charges were $6.3 million in the first quarter of 2013, compared to $6.4 million in the preceding quarter and increased 7% compared to $5.9 million in the first quarter a year ago. Revenues from core operations* were $50.9 million in the first quarter compared to $54.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 and $50.4 million in the first quarter a year ago.
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