SunTrust reports quarterly profit growth

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Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc.’s quarterly profit rose 33 percent, as the Southeastern bank earned more from lending and set aside less money to cover bad loans.

For the fourth-quarter, SunTrust earned $152 million, or 28 cents a share, compared with $114 million, or 23 cents a share a year ago.

Net interest income – the difference between what the bank earns on loans and pays out on deposits – rose 2 percent to $1.32 billion.

Provisions for credit losses fell 36 percent to $327 million.

“We experienced healthy loan growth again this quarter, particularly in our commercial and industrial portfolio, which we have targeted for expansion,” Chief Executive William Rogers said in a statement.

Banks such as Suntrust, PNC Financial, US Bancorp , Wells Fargo & Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co have seen growth in their commercial loan books, pointing to an improving economy.

Average loans for the fourth quarter of 2011 were $119.5 billion, up from $114.9 billion last year.

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