SunTrust

(STI) - Get Report

and

GreenPoint Financial

(GPT)

raised their dividends Tuesday in another sign that the nation's bankers expect the good times to keep rolling along.

SunTrust, the big southeastern regional lender, raised its quarterly dividend by 11% to 50 cents. GreenPoint, a New York-area thrift, boosted its dividend by 24% to 30 cents.

Over the past six months, many of the nation's financial institutions have raised their dividends. Last year's tax cut on dividends is encouraging more banks to share more of their profits with shareholders.

Banks also are better able to hike their quarterly payouts after posting strong earnings in the second half of 2003. Bank profits are likely to climb modestly in 2004 with interest rates expected to remain in check for much of this year.

"Today's announcement reflects SunTrust's recent performance as well as our belief that future earnings trends will be increasingly positive," CEO Phillip Humann said.