U.S. Bancorp, Hudson City Bancorp and KeyCorp vary plenty in their style of banking, but all three companies have followed what is shaping up to be the defining trend of the earnings season: a deceleration in the deterioration of credit.

A cause for celebration? Not exactly. Non-performing assets are still on the rise, and it may take a dramatic change in the U.S. employment picture for that to change. But with problem loans arising at a more manageable pace, U.S. Bancorp and Hudson City, which both reported third-quarter profits on Wednesday, are in as strong a position as ever to exert their gathering strength, while even some banks that are still in the red, such as KeyCorp, are getting extra breathing room from investors.

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