Fifth Third Bancorp's fourth-quarter loss narrowed more than analysts expected, with deposits rising 2.7% and the results coming after big year-earlier charges.

"Fourth-quarter credit trends were better than expected and showed encouraging signs of improvement," said Chairman and Chief Executive Kevin Kabat. "Our current expectation is for full-year 2010 net charge-offs to decline from those realized in 2009."

In the past week, banks have reported stronger fourth-quarter results, bouncing back from the depths of the financial crisis a year earlier. Fifth Third has been smacked especially hard during the downturn, having extended commercial real-estate financing to overheated markets.

Cincinnati-based Fifth Third reported a loss of $98 million, or 20 cents a share, from a year-earlier loss of $2.14 billion, or $3.78. The year-earlier quarter included $1 billion in charges.

Revenue fell 0.6% to $1.53 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast a 31-cent loss on $1.46 billion in revenue.

Loan-loss provisions fell to $776 million from $2.36 billion a year earlier and $952 million in the prior quarter. Net charge-offs, or loans a bank doesn't think it can collect, dropped to 3.62% from 7.5% a year earlier and 3.75% in the prior quarter.

Shares closed at $11.31 Wednesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has nearly tripled the past year.

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