Capital One Financial Corp. swung to a fourth-quarter profit following big prior-year writedowns as the credit-card lender and bank posted better-than-expected results and a lower loan-loss provision.

The industry has been hurt by rising delinquency rates, a key gauge of future losses, as consumers struggle amid high joblessness. Credit-card issuers are also coping with sweeping legislation restricting certain fees and rate hikes that will bite into income. A number of lenders have responded by scaling back on credit and getting tougher about lending standards.

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