Aided by stellar credit quality and strong loan growth, the nation's 65 largest banks generally improved profitability in the second quarter, according to American Banker's latest quarterly survey.

"What we're seeing is modest to moderate improvements in revenues, very good expense control, and very low credit costs," said analyst Thomas F. Theurkauf Jr., with Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. "What that adds up to is very high levels of profitability."

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