Midsize regional banks reporting fourth quarter earnings this week mostly showed profit gains fueled by strong loan and fee income, although results at one bank lagged due to credit card problems.

Robinson-Humphrey Co. analyst John W. Coffey said a strong economy in the Southeast helped SouthTrust Corp. post a quarterly net income improvement of 28%, to $68.4 million. The Birmingham, Ala., banking company's earnings per share reached 71 cents, versus 61 cents in last year's fourth quarter. Return on equity was 16.02%, up 89 basis points from the fourth quarter of 1995.

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