In a new detailed report, the Federal Reserve laid out four options for upgrading the creaky U.S. payment system. It raised questions about how far the Fed can, and should, go to bring about change.

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American Express, Discover and Capital One all reported significant increases in their marketing spending last quarter, part of a larger upward trend in expenses.

Early signs point to a wave of Federal Housing Administration borrowers trying to tap into lower prices for mortgage backing.

Fifth Third Bancorp and Regions Financial are the latest banks to detail the financial fallout from a regulatory crackdown on the small-dollar consumer loan product.
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First Niagara reported a fourth-quarter profit, but the more-interesting question was why the Buffalo, N.Y., bank won't fully explain the customer problem that has forced it to set aside more than $20 million.

BB&T and KeyCorp's quarterly results showed how more diversified regional banks can turn to their insurance sales, investment banking and other fee generators for backup until interest rates improve. Whereas the smaller Huntington Bancshares needed strong loan growth in a quarter (and year) when fees fell.

Stephen Steinour, the head of Huntington Bancshares, cited strong projected growth in auto sales and an improving housing market as good signs for the Midwestern bank's fortunes in 2015.

The industry is breathing a little easier now that the Supreme Court declined to hear a case that merchants hoped would lead to even lower debit interchange fees.

Fifth Third Bancorp and U.S. Bancorp say they will delicately approach expenses in 2015 — or at least until rates rise. They are investing where they must, but pinching where they can, and trying to manage expectations on loan growth.

Five Star Bank is the latest financial institution to settle claims that it avoided lending to minorities. More redlining cases can be expected, industry experts say.

The past year was a bit of slog for most regional banks and, if fourth-quarter results are any indication of what's ahead, then 2015 isn't looking much better.

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