NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs unveiled its top Americas bank picks Wednesday in a preview of fourth-quarter earnings.

Analysts at Goldman see a "mixed" earnings picture for the fourth quarter, despite expectations for increased lending and dividend payouts and an improving credit picture in the year ahead as its economists estimate robust GDP growth of 3.4% for the new year.

In terms of loan growth, the report from analysts Richard Ramsden, Ryan Nash and Daniel Paris notes recent Federal Reserve data shows a pick up in "jumbo" residential mortgage loans as well as commercial and industrial and consumer lending. However, commercial real estate, credit cards and home equity are all areas showing shrinkage.

As for fees, the report sees declining capital markets revenues, driven largely by a drop in fixed income, currencies and commodities, though that should be offset to an extent by strength in equities, Goldman analysts predict. Mortgage banking revenues also look weaker as a result of higher interest rates, according to the report, which argues the trend bodes ill for Wells Fargo ( WFC).

Goldman's analysts see increasing book value growth for the banks, though they argue the increase in Treasury rates will lead to lower unrealized gains in banks' securities portfolios.

"While bank securities portfolios vary in both composition and duration, there has historically been a strong relationship between moves in the 10-year Treasury yield and unrealized gains/losses on the security portfolio," the report states, arguing the selloff in Treasuries could generate a 1.0-1.5% drop in book value for large cap banks.

Like many analysts and investors, Goldman expects higher dividends from Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), U.S. Bancorp ( USB)and PNC Financial ( PNC), but says increases from Citigroup ( C) and Bank of America ( BAC) are "uncertain."

Goldman also sees merger and acquisition activity picking up in 2011 and its analysts argue U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial are the "most likely acquirers," according to the report. However, the analysts note acquirers may have a tougher time aggressively marking down assets than they did previously.

Regulation will also remain an issue for banks, according to the report, which points to the crackdown on "interchange fees" which credit card lenders charge to merchants, as one prominent example.

Still, Goldman's analysts identified three banks they believe will stand out in the upcoming earnings reports, as well as in the rest of 2011. Here are their picks:

If you liked this article you might like

PayPal's Stock Has Blown Away Facebook and Google This Year for One Big Reason

Why PayPal Stock Is on Fire

China's Banks Halt Business With North Korea Per U.N. Sanctions

Why Hurricanes Won't Force the Fed to Ditch a December Rate Hike

What's Up With Apple?