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.

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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.

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.

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.

BB&T plans to add more than $20 billion in assets this year through three pending acquisitions. Management, which believes it should have no problem getting its deals approved, has started to improve how it monitors its liquidity capital ratio before new thresholds kick in.

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.

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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Regional banks M&T and Regions Financial continue to see healthy loan growth, but low interest rates (combined with their own special problems) are preventing them from translating it into higher profits.

The big oil lender faces a classic dilemma: extend more credit to energy companies in need of more capital, or lock down to guard against a prolonged downturn.

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.

Bank of America's expenses still far exceed those of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, so analysts were clearly disappointed Thursday when CEO Brian Moynihan failed to outline any specific plans for further lowering overhead.
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