Financial stocks' recent decline continued Tuesday as companies began to release third-quarter earnings.

The credit quality of big commercial banks, especially those based in the Southeast, had analysts worried. Share prices of three North Carolina companies - Bank of America Corp., First Union Corp., and Wachovia Corp. - and Detroit-based Comerica Inc. all fell after SunTrust Banks Inc., the first banking company to release earnings, reported a steep rise in nonperforming assets. While SunTrust's earnings were in line with analysts' expectations, the Atlanta company's nonperforming assets rose 32%, to $404.5 million.

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