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Banks Kick Off Dividend, Buyback Spree

Stocks in this article: JPM WFC BBT USB PNC BK STT

Story updated to add details about announcements by State Street, PNC Financial and other banks, along with analyst commentary.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), US Bancorp (USB), BB&T (BBT) and State Street Corp. (STT) all increased their dividends following the Federal Reserve's completion of its "stress tests" on the 19 biggest U.S. bank holding companies Friday.

Wells Fargo announced a special cash dividend of seven cents per share in the first quarter, raising its quarterly dividend for the first quarter to 12 cents per share. It will also buy back common stock and redeem certain preferred shares.

US Bancorp upped its dividend to 12.5 cents quarterly, or 50 cents annually, and said it would buy back 50 million shares.

JPMorgan increased its regular quarterly dividend to 25 cents -- a 20 cent increase -- an announced $15 billion in share buybacks, $8 billion of which will come in 2011.

BB&T, which already had a sizable dividend of 15 cents per quarter, raised the regular quarterly dividend by a penny and added a 1-cent special dividend for the first quarter.

State Street raised its quarterly dividend by 17 cents per share to 18 cents and said its board authorized a share buyback in 2011 worth $675 million.

Bank New York Mellon (BK) and PNC Financial (PNC) said they had approval from the Fed to increase dividends and buy back shares beginning in the second quarter.

Also on Friday, KeyCorp (KEY) and SunTrust (STI) announced plans to raise equity to pay back bailout funds from the Treasury under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

A report from research firm Stifel, Nicolaus said the "key take away" from all the announcements was that KeyCorp and SunTrust will be allowed to pay back the TARP money "with materially lower than expected capital raises."

Stifel analysts wrote that Bank of America (BAC) and Fifth Third (FITB) may have asked to be allowed to distribute capital in the second half of the year and may make announcements Monday.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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