Cullen/Frost Bankers Inc. in San Antonio said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings rose 8.6% from a year earlier, to $52 million.

Earnings were largely fueled by a 30% decline in the loan-loss provision, to $9.5 million. Cullen/Frost also had its lowest level of nonperforming assets in two years after they fell 10% from a year earlier, to $154.7 million.

Loan growth was sluggish. It rose 0.6% from the fourth quarter but fell 2.3% from a year earlier, to $8 billion. The company's total risk-based capital ratio was 16.31% and Tier 1 was 14.22% at March 31.

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