Bloomberg News

U.S. Bancorp (USB - Get Report) on Wednesday reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and revenue growth amid strong returns from its lending and fee-based businesses.

The Minneapolis-based bank said it earned $1.78 billion, or $1.10 a share, in the fourth quarter, vs. $1.61 billion, or 97 cents a share, in the year-earlier period.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting U.S. Bancorp to report earnings of $1.06 a share.

Revenue for the quarter rose 4.1% to $5.83 billion from $5.60 billion last year.

Net interest income rose 4% to $3.3 billion, while net interest margin, which indicates how profitable a bank is, was 3.15%, unchanged from the third quarter. Compared with the fourth quarter a year ago, it expanded by 4 basis points.

"Fourth-quarter results capped a strong year for U.S. Bancorp, and the momentum we are seeing in our lending and fee businesses positions us well for 2019," CEO Andy Cecere said in a statement.

A recent fourth-quarter bank-earnings preview note from equity analysts at Sandler O'Neill + Partners noted that recent rate increases from the Federal Reserve could help banks' net interest margins, though a flattening yield curve - where short-term and long-term interest rates move closer to one another - could negatively impact future results.

Shares of U.S. Bancorp rose $1.14, or 2.4%, to $49.11 by the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday.