Fifth Third Bancorp swung to a first-quarter loss following prior-year gains as the regional bank reported several credit metrics reaching their best levels in at least a year.

"First-quarter results showed continued significant improvement, reflecting not only lower credit costs but also stronger than expected pre-provision earnings," said Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Kabat."

Delinquent loans fell 15% from the fourth quarter to put them at the lowest level in 2 1/2 years, while net charge-offs hit a one-year low.

Regional banks in the past week have reported mostly improved results from a year earlier as the economy heals. Fifth Third, based in Cincinnati, has been smacked especially hard during the downturn, having extended commercial real-estate financing to overheated markets.

Fifth Third reported a loss of $10 million, compared with a prior-year profit of $50 million; including preferred dividends, the company's loss widened to 9 cents from 4 cents. The year-earlier quarter's results were boosted by 18 cents, or $101 million, because of myriad gains.

Revenue jumped 3.4% to $1.53 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast a loss of 18 cents on $1.48 billion in revenue.

Loan-loss provisions were $590 million, down from $773 million a year earlier and $776 million in the prior quarter. Net charge-offs, or loans lenders don't think are collectible, were 3.01% of average loans, compared with 2.38% and 3.62%, respectively. Nonperforming assets, those near default, were 4.02%, versus 3.2% and 4.22%.

Shares closed at $15.15 on Wednesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has quadrupled the past year.

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