SunTrust Banks (STI) in Atlanta said its quarterly profit rose 16% as it made more commercial loans.

The $180 billion-asset company's first-quarter earnings rose 16% from a year earlier, to $393 million, or 73 cents a share, from a year ago. The average estimate of analysts polled by Bloomberg was 66 cents.

Commercial and industrial loans rose 8%, to $59 billion. Commercial real estate lending increased 40%, to $6 billion, mirroring an industrywide trend.

"Loan growth looked solid this quarter," Aleem Gillani, chief financial officer, said during a Monday morning conference call.

SunTrust also reported growth in several business lines, including credit cards, indirect auto lending, wealth management and investment banking.

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