The nation's top banks continued to make impressive gains in profitability last year, according to a survey by American Banker. Analysts and bankers credited increased efficiency, better technology, and the ongoing merger boom for the results.

American Banker's annual survey shows that average return on assets for the top 50 banks rose to 1.29%, from 1.2% in 1995. Average return on equity also climbed to 16.6%, from 16.03%, a year earlier.

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