NEW YORK (AP) - Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corp. surprised investors with good news Thursday, saying it expects to report a profit for the first quarter when most analysts had predicted a significant loss.

Shares shot up nearly 30 percent on the news, adding $1.42 to $6.42 in afternoon trading.

At the close of trading Wednesday, the stock was down 37 percent this year.

Echoing trends reported at other big banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, Regions said it has experienced solid deposit growth and a surge in mortgage application volume.

What's more, the regional bank said it hopes to repay a $3.5 billion investment from the government as soon as possible.

Regions will report full first-quarter results on Tuesday.

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