SunTrust Banks in Atlanta reported higher first-quarter profit as stronger fee income and lower expenses helped offset a drop in income from lending.

The $190 billion-asset company said net income rose 4.6% to $411 million or 78 cents per share, from a year earlier. However, total revenue fell 2%, to $1.99 billion.

Net interest income fell 5% to $1.2 billion. The net interest margin shrank 36 basis points to 2.83%. Total loans rose 2%, to $132 billion.

SunTrust attributed the decrease in net interest income to lower commercial loan-swap income, higher amortization expense for mortgage-backed securities premiums and lower loan yields.

Fee income rose 3% to $817 million on higher income from mortgage banking and capital-markets activities.

Noninterest expense fell 6% to $1.3 billion. The company's efficiency ratio improved 260 basis points to 64.23%.

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