SunTrust Banks Inc.'s fourth-quarter earnings slipped 16% as the regional bank reported weaker-than-expected revenue, although credit costs continued to decline.

Based in Atlanta, the lender serves an area that was hard hit by the real-estate bust. Recent quarters, however, have shown an improvement in credit quality, helping the bank to reduce funds used to cover potentially risky loans.

Focus has sharpened on the regional lenders in recent days after confirmation earlier this week from U.S. Bancorp Inc. that longrunning settlement negotiations with the U.S. government over botched foreclosure procedures at the nation's largest banks now include regional players.

SunTrust didn't comment on any potential involvement in those negotiations in its earnings release Friday. As of Dec. 31, the company's reserves for mortgage repurchases totaled $320 million, an increase of $38 million from the prior quarter.

SunTrust reported a profit of $155 million, down from $185 million a year earlier. Per-share earnings rose to 28 cents from 23 cents a year earlier, topping the 27 cents a share expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Total revenue declined 12% to $2.05 billion as non-interest income fell 30% from a year earlier due to an increase in the mortgage repurchase provision. Analysts expected revenue of $2.09 billion.

Loan-loss provisions, used to cover potentially souring loans, declined to $327 million from $512 million a year earlier and $347 million in the third quarter.

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