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Regions: Financial Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Regions Financial (RF - Get Report) was the winner among major U.S. banks on Friday, with shares rising 0.5% to close at $10.23.

The broad indices ended slightly as investors looked ahead to next week for a slew of economic reports and the next meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee.

The Federal Reserve has kept the short-term federal funds rate in a range of zero to 0.25% since late 2008. The central bank has also been making monthly purchases of $85 billion in long-term securities since September, in an effort to spur economic growth by holding long-term interest rates down. Investors have pushed the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds up to 2.56% from 1.70%, and recent comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have led some investors to expect the central bank's bond-buying to be curtailed as early as September.

There could be some additional market volatility next week, as investors jump on any change in the language of the FOMC statement on monetary policy, next Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. ET. "We expect the FOMC will incorporate more details about its asset purchase intentions into its official statement, describing plans to taper and eventually end its net new monthly purchases of MBS and Treasuries," Deutsche Bank economist Neal Soss wrote in a note to clients Friday.

Economic reports on tap for next week include Consumer Confidence on Tuesday, GDP growth on Wednesday, ISM Manufacturing on Thursday and the Labor Department's July Employment Situation Summary, which will include the national unemployment rate.

For most large-cap banks, the rise in long-term rates, with no similar move in short-term rates didn't lead to expanding net interest margins (NIM) during the second quarter. According to KBW analyst Christopher Mutascio, eight of 11 large-cap banks covered by his firm saw their net interest margins contract from the third quarter of last year, when the 10-Year yield bottomed at 1.40% to the end of the second quarter.

Exceptions to the NIM contraction trend included Huntington Bancshares of Columbus, Ohio, with a second-quarter margin of 3.38%, which was flat from the third quarter of 2012. The two other exceptions included Bank of America (BAC - Get Report), with its NIM expanding by 11 basis points to 2.43% during the second quarter, and Regions Financial of Birmingham, Ala., with its margin expanding by eight basis points to 3.16%.
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