SOURCE: The Bedford Report

The Bedford Report

February 09, 2011 11:25 ET

Regional Banks May Finally See Loan Growth

The Bedford Report Provides Analyst Research on BB&T & Fifth Third Bancorp

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 9, 2011) -  Last week the US economy was given a boost when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that the US unemployment rate dropped to 9 percent in January from 9.4 percent in December. Paul Zemsky, the head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management, argues that "The U.S. economy is all about jobs and anything that leads folks to believe that there's a better job market will be good for equities." This is especially true for regional banks. When the Obama Administration administered the much publicized stress tests on the banking sector, banks were tested for their ability to withstand the pressure stemming from a hefty 10% unemployment rate. High unemployment has led to a wave of foreclosures, a series of delinquencies in consumer lending and has compressed most banks' bottom lines. The Bedford Report examines the outlook for companies in the Regional Banking Sector and provides research reports on BB&T Corporation (NYSE: BBT) and Fifth Third Bancorp (NASDAQ: FITB). Access to the full company reports can be found at:

www.bedfordreport.com/2011-02-BBT

www.bedfordreport.com/2011-02-FITB

In recent quarters, regional banks have begun to post improved credit quality. More thorough and cautious credit checks have led to fewer delinquent loans and greater financial stability. As such, Banks are setting aside less money to cover bad loans, and some are seeing loan losses recede. While credit quality improved, the high unemployment rate has been damaging to banks' long term loan growth. Improving employment numbers will hopefully, in time, lead to a boost in loan growth across the banking sector.

The Bedford Report releases regular market updates on the Regional Banking sector so investors can stay ahead of the crowd and make the best investment decisions to maximize their returns. Take a few minutes to register with us free at www.bedfordreport.com and get exclusive access to our numerous analyst reports and industry newsletters.

Improved profits led some regional banks to pay back their Troubled Asset Relief Program debts to the federal government. After plummeting, defaulted loans at Fifth Third Bancorp helped the company realize $270 million in fourth quarter profit compared to a $160 million Q4 loss last year, the company paid back its TARP loan of $3.4 billion.

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