Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of New England bank Webster Financial (NYSE: WBS) were up more than 10% in intraday trading after the company reported better-than-expected earnings.

So what: For the fourth quarter, Webster Financial reported $0.30 in earnings per share, which clobbered the average analyst estimate of $0.20. The big year-over-year change -- which took the company from a substantial loss to the reported profit -- was largely because of lower loan-loss provisions after the bank's continued credit improvement. By the end of the quarter, non-performing loans as a percentage of total loans had fallen to 2.48%, an improvement over both the previous and year-ago quarters.

Now what: Today, we also saw JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) report stronger-than-expected earnings on credit improvements. Many investors are likely to remain skeptical about the bottom-line bumps at banks because of improvement in credit trends, and it's hard to blame them. However, it does seem like many banks have -- by aggressively addressing troubled loans and not waiting to take charge-offs -- successfully put themselves on the opposite side of the financial storm.

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