A trio of major southeastern banks reported strong second-quarter earnings this week, aided by good loan growth, improved fee income, and stable net interest margins.

First Union Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., earned $249.1 million, a 12% gain from the year-earlier quarter. First Union's earnings per share of $1.45 came in at the top of the range the company forecast on June 19 when it agreed to purchase New Jersey-based First Fidelity Bancorp.

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