Comerica Inc.'s third-quarter earnings fell 32% on still-climbing credit costs as the regional bank posted better-than-expected results.

Regional banks are more dependent on economic improvement than others because they derive significant loan revenue from small businesses and local building projects. The real-estate crisis really dealt Comerica a blow in the second quarter, when bigger-than-expected write-downs on soured loans combined with timid loan demand. Comerica has particular exposure to commercial real estate and construction loans - and with banking units in Michigan, Arizona, Florida and California, it operates in areas worst hit by the housing bubble.

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