Three large Eastern banks kicked off the third-quarter earnings season Tuesday by reporting solid profits, fueled by improved credit quality and tax-related gains. But weak loan demand and declining interest margins tempered the results.

Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks Inc. netted $120.3 million for the three months ending Sept. 30, a 13% boost over its year-earlier earnings. The gain, which translated to 96 cents a share, was in line with analysts' estimates.

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