BB&T Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings fell a less-than-anticipated 37% as the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regional bank's credit provisions and nonperforming assets rose only slightly from the summer.

Nonperforming assets, or loans in danger of going bad, rose to 2.65% from 2.48% in the previous quarter; it was 1.34% a year earlier. Net charge-offs, loans the bank doesn't expect to collect, rose to 1.83% from 1.29% in the prior year and 1.71% a quarter earlier. Credit-loss provisions rose 37% to $725 million from a year earlier but only grew 3.2% from the third quarter.

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