First-quarter earnings at SVB Financial Group in Santa Clara, Calif., nearly doubled from a year earlier, to $33 million, largely because of a release of loan-loss reserves.

The $18.62 billion-asset company had a profit of $17.5 million in the fourth quarter and a profit of $18.6 million a year earlier. The first quarter featured a $3 million reserve release compared with a $15.5 million loan-loss provision a quarter earlier. The results were announced Thursday.

Net interest income rose 15% from the fourth quarter and 19% year over year, to $120.3 million, in part because of higher investment yields. Total loans rose 2.3% from the fourth quarter and 34% year over year, to $5.6 billion. SVB also said its Silicon Valley Bank would buy back $500 million in senior and subordinated debt with cash. The repurchase expires May 2.

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