UPDATE 1-Huntington Bancshares sees higher 2011 profit

Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:05pm EST

* Reserving less in 2011 for credit losses

* Sees higher 2011 profits

* Pre-tax, pre-provision income to grow in 2012

NEW YORK, March 10 (Reuters) - Huntington Bancshares (HBAN.O) said on Thursday that lower credit losses will help it be more profitable in 2011.

The Columbus, Ohio-based bank's positive outlook is the latest sign that U.S. regional banks are recovering from the financial crisis.

Huntington said in a regulatory filing that it will reserve less for credit losses this year and expects net charge-offs and nonperforming assets to decline.

It said pre-tax, pre-provision income in 2011 should be in line with the second half of 2010 -- $260 million to $265 million per quarter -- and should grow in 2012, if not sooner.

Huntington repaid its government bailout in December and posted a fourth-quarter profit of 12 cents per share, excluding a 7 cent per share cost for the repayment. The per-share profit beat analyst estimates of 8 cents. [ID:nN19248256]

Huntington shares were down 2.36 percent at $6.61 in mid-afternoon trading on the Nasdaq. The benchmark S&P 500 index was down 1.6 percent. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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