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Fulton Financial 4Q net income up

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) -- Fulton Financial Corp. reported Tuesday that its fourth-quarter net income improved as the bank holding company lowered its provisions for credit losses.

The company said after the market closed that it earned $40.2 million, or 20 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31, which met analyst expectations according to data from FactSet. That is up from the $36.1 million, or 18 cents per share, earned in the same quarter last year.

E. Philip Wenger, the company's chairman, president and CEO, said 2012 was a good year for the company as it improved its earnings and asset quality and significantly reduced its provision for credit loss. The company also reported strong residential mortgage activity, good core deposit growth and higher returns on its assets and equity.

Fulton reported a pick-up in loan demand in all of its markets during the fourth quarter, although the low interest rate environment is putting pressure on its margins.

The company's provision for credit losses was $17.5 million for the period, versus $30 million in the same quarter of the prior year. Non-performing assets were $237.2 million versus $317.3 million in the prior year. Net charge-offs, or loans written off as uncollectable, were $27.3 million, down from $40.6 million.

Net interest income, or earnings from deposits and loans, slipped to $132.2 million from $138.5 million in the prior year.

Fulton Financial, based in Lancaster, Pa., is the holding company for six affiliate banks.

Shares increased 3 cents to close regular trading at $10.32 and fell 17 cents in after-hours trading.