Our comments today will refer to the financial information included with our earnings announcement, which we released at 4:30 yesterday afternoon. These documents can be found on our website at fult.com by clicking on Investor Relations and then on News.
On this call, representatives of Fulton may make forward-looking statements with respect to Fulton's financial conditions, results of operation and business. These forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond Fulton's control and difficult to predict and could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in the forward-looking statements. Fulton undertakes no obligation other than required by law to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
In our earnings release, we've included our Safe Harbor statement on forward-looking statements, and we refer you to this message in the earnings release and incorporated into this presentation. For a more complete discussion of certain risks and uncertainties affecting Fulton, please see the sections entitled Risk Factors and Management's Discussion and Analysis of financial conditions and results of operations set forth in Fulton's filings with the SEC.
Now we'd like to turn the call over to your host, Scott Smith.R. Scott Smith Thank you, Laura, and good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. I have a few remarks about the fourth quarter and the year, and then the Phil Wenger will discuss credit. Charlie Nugent will discuss our financial performance. And then we will be happy to take your questions. We were encouraged by our progress in 2011, but there's more to be accomplished. Diluted earnings per share were up 24% for the year. Our commitment to credit quality improvement enabled us to reduce the provision by $25 million. We saw strong average core deposit growth of over 11%, and much of that growth came from small business sector. These low-cost funds help us expand our net interest margin by 10 basis points despite pressure on earning asset yields.