Buoyed by strong gains in both interest and fee income, Community Bank System Inc. in DeWitt, N.Y., said Monday that its third-quarter earnings increased 6.9% from a year earlier, to $11.8 million, or 39 cents a share, in line with the average estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Net interest income rose 8.1%, to $37.1 million. The $4.8 billion-asset company attributed the increase to a 6.8% increase in average loans and a 26-basis-point improvement in its net interest margin, to 3.82%.

Noninterest income climbed 10.2%, to $1.8 million, driven by a 7.9% increase in deposit-service revenue and the acquisition of a benefits management consulting firm that helped boost revenue in the benefits group by nearly 26%.

Community Bank System completed a $50 million stock offering this month and plans to use much of the proceeds to complete its acquisition of 18 upstate New York branches from Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC's Citizens Financial Group Inc. That deal, announced in June, is expected to close next month.

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