Fourth-quarter earnings at Republic Bancorp Inc. in Louisville, Ky., were up 15% from a year earlier, to $4.4 million as credit costs fell.

For the year, Republic's net income increased 54% from 2009, to $64.8 million. The results were released Wednesday.

The $3.6 billion-asset company's fourth-quarter loan-loss provision fell 67% from a year earlier, to $1.7 million. Nonperforming assets fell 16%, to $40 million, or 1.84% of total assets.

The reduction in credit expenses was offset by lower net interest income in the quarter, which fell 7% from a year earlier, to $25.4 million.

Republic said the decline was caused by low long-term interest rates and less demand for adjustable-rate mortgages. It said it expects net interest income to remain pressured in 2011.

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