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U.S. Banks Collectively Post Second Highest Earnings on Record in 2012

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Mar 6, 2013) - The U.S. Banking Industry has benefited from a slowly, but steadily improving economy over the past few years. Recent data has shown that U.S. banks posted their second highest earnings on record in 2012. The SPDR KBW Regional Banking ETF (KRE) and the SPDR KBW Bank ETF (KBE) over the past year have posted gains of 15 percent and 19 percent, respectively. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the Regional Banking Industry and provides equity research on Fifth Third Bancorp ( NASDAQ : FITB ) and Regions Financial Corporation ( NYSE : RF ).

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The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. reported that 2012 full year earnings for U.S. banks totaled $141.3 billion, an increase of $22.9 billion (19.3 percent) when compared to a year ago. Earnings for U.S. banks reached their peak in 2006 with $145.2 billion. The earnings growth in 2012 was largely attributed to a decrease in capital set aside for loan losses, the FDIC stated. Earnings for the fourth quarter grew 36.9 percent year-over-year to $34.7 billion.

"On the positive side, income has been rising for more than three years; asset quality has been improving for more than two years; and for over a year, banks have been lending more in support of a recovering U.S. economy," FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said in a statement.

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Shares of Fifth Third Bancorp have gained approximately 20 percent over the past year. The company has announced that it has lent nearly $34 billion to businesses in 2012. Fifth Third reported a net income of $390 million, or $0.43 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2012, an increase of 30 percent when compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.

Regions Financial serves customers in 16 states across the South, Midwest and Texas. Shares of the company have gained over 30 percent in the past year. For the full year 2012 Regions reported a net income from continuing operations of $1.1 billion, or $0.76 per diluted share. "I am pleased with the progress we made in 2012 and am encouraged that our efforts are building a strong foundation for sustainable growth in 2013 and beyond," said Grayson Hall, president and CEO.

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