WASHINGTON — On the surface, the industry turned a corner last quarter. Loans actually grew, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. returned to black and the official watch list for failure-prone banks shrank for the first time in five years.

But a closer look at the FDIC's Quarterly Banking Profile reveals a familiar theme: banks are still tiptoeing to recovery. Loans rose for the first time since 2008, but lower loss provisions yet again drove earnings, and lower revenue was a sign that institutions remain risk-averse as the economy continues to struggle.

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