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Wells Fargo, BBandT Boost Dividends, BofA Still Waiting For Permission

When America's big banks took federal bailout money a few years back, they were forced to drop their shareholder dividends to near zero. Until the banks were in better shape, the Federal Reserve essentially banned the age-old tradition of sending fat checks to loyal shareholders every quarter. But today the Fed announced some banks are healthy enough to start paying dividends again. It's not saying which ones, but the banks sure are. "We figured we'd get almost an immediate press release from U.S. Bank, from Wells Fargo, from BB&T because all of those banks were expected to get permission to increase their dividend," says UNC Charlotte banking professor Tony Plath. Sure enough, Wells Fargo today bumped its quarterly dividend payment from $.05 a share up to $.12. Winston Salem-based BB&T's dividend went up a penny to $.16. And Bank of America shareholders? Still just a measly one-cent dividend. The bank continues to struggle with mortgage problems and has yet to get the Fed's go ahead for a dividend boost. BofA officials say they're hoping for a "modest" increase the second half of this year.