Fulton Financial in Lancaster, Pa., reported a slight increase in its fourth-quarter profit as strong fee-income growth helped to offset a decline in its net interest margin.

The $17.9 billion-asset company reported net income of $38.5 million in fourth quarter, up 1.5% from the same period in 2014. Earnings per share of 22 cents beat the average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg by a penny.

Noninterest income climbed nearly 9% year over year, to $45.8 million, thanks in part to an increase in fees from service charges and mortgage banking.

Net interest income remained largely unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2014, at $127.8 million. Total loans rose 5.3% to $13.8 billion, but the net interest margin fell 12 basis points to 3.19%.

Noninterest expenses increased year over year by 0.6% to $118.4 million. Higher costs associated with data processing and foreclosures were mitigated by declines in expenses for marketing and other outside services.

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