Northern Trust Corp. Chief Executive Rick Waddell said in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday that U.S. banks are in the early stages of a recovery. Banks' first-quarter results have been encouraging, he said, especially given the difficult conditions they faced in the previous quarter.

Northern Trust, of Chicago, last week reported first-quarter earnings of 61 cents a share, missing analysts' estimates.

Waddell said the government has been responsive to Northern Trust's request to repay funds it received from the Troubled Asset Relief Program. He said the $500 million debt portion of its $1.25 billion equity and debt offering Tuesday was oversubscribed by five times. Northern Trust has received $1.6 billion of Tarp money.

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