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Strong Earnings From Fifth Third Bancorp and PNC Financial Services Driven by Loan Growth

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jan 21, 2013) - Strong earnings from regional banks have helped them outperform their larger counterparts in recent weeks. The SPDR KBW Regional Banking ETF (KRE) has gained 2.25 percent in the past week, while the broader SPDR KBW Bank ETF (KBE) has gained 1.45 percent over the same period. Research Driven Investing examines investing opportunities in the Regional Banking Industry and provides equity research on Fifth Third Bancorp ( NASDAQ : FITB ) and PNC Financial Services ( NYSE : PNC ).

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Loan growth has been a key driver for regional banks' earnings in recent quarters. An increased number of smaller business loans helped regional banks offset the low spreads and profit margins the larger banks face. Another key factor for growth has been the recent refinancing boom.

"We've benefited from a refinancing boom and that has augmented our results fairly significantly," said Dan Poston, Fifth Third's chief financial officer. "The bigger banks have more onerous regulatory concerns, whether that's the capital they are required to hold, or new regulations that impact their trading or derivatives books."

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Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company. The company has $122 billion in assets and operates 15 affiliates with 1,324 full-service Banking Centers. Fifth Third reported a net income of $399 million in the fourth quarter, an increase of 10 percent sequentially, and an increase of 27 percent year-over-year.

PNC Financial Services shares have gained over 3 percent in the past week. The company reported a net income of $719 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, compared to a net income of $493 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. PNC Financial Services' loans totaled $186 billion in the fourth quarter, which is a sequential increase of 2 percent.

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