NEW YORK -- First Union Corp., Charlotte, and Fifth Third Bancorp, Cincinnati, each declared a 15% increase in the quarterly dividend.

First Union's quarterly payout will rise 6 cents a share, to 46 cents, payable Sept. 15 to holders of record Aug. 31. The North Carolina company has increased its dividend for 17 straight years.

Fifth Third's dividend rose 4 cents a share, to 31 cents, payable July 15 to shareholders of record June 30. The dividend is seven cents, or 29%, higher than in the second quarter of last year.

The Ohio-based superregional has increased its dividend 26 times in the 19 years since it was organized as a holding company, and has done so at nine-month intervals each of the last 10 years, said George A. Schaefer Jr., president and chief executive.

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