Commerce Bancshares Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday reported fourth-quarter net income rose 25% from a year earlier, fueled by fee income.

The $18.5 billion-asset Commerce earned $61.9 million in the period, which also featured lower credit costs and "stable" expenses, David Kemper, the company's chairman and chief executive, said in a press release.

The company cut its loan-loss provision by 46% from a year earlier, to $21.6 million. Commerce also had a $9.8 million gain in the quarter after selling most of its student loan book.

For 2010, net income rose 31%, to $221.7 million from the previous year. Tangible common equity at Dec. 31 was 10.3%.

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