California's small and midsize banks have long been a bellwether for the nation's community institutions as a whole. So given the third-quarter performance of the Golden State banks so far this earnings season, there's reason for some optimism.

The 16 banks in California that reported third-quarter results through Oct. 18 recorded a 66% boost in average net income compared with a year earlier and a 23% jump from the second quarter, according to data from SNL Financial LC.

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