Comerica (CMA) in Dallas posted higher fourth-quarter earnings because of fewer chargeoffs and a smaller loan-loss provision.

The $65 billion-asset company's earnings rose 12% from a year earlier, to $145 million. Earnings per share of 77 cents were 3 cents higher than the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Net interest income ticked up 1% from a year earlier, to $430 million, because of lower deposit rates and lower interest on medium- and long-term debt. Loans were flat and deposits rose by 3% from the end of 2012. The net interest margin compressed by 1 basis point from a year earlier, to 2.86%.

Noninterest income was flat from a year earlier, at $204 million. Noninterest expenses rose 0.5% from the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily because of increased salaries and employee benefits.

Comerica's loan-loss provision fell 44% from a year earlier, to $9 million. Net chargeoffs fell 65% from the fourth quarter of 2012, to $13 million.

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