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American Express revenue rises 13 per cent

American Express Co. said fourth-quarter revenue grew 13 per cent from a year earlier, as consumer spending increased and the company earned more from fees.

The credit card lender and payment network Monday reported $7.3-billion (U.S.) of quarterly revenue net of interest expense, compared with $6.5-billion a year earlier.

American Express narrowly fell short of analyst estimates last week when it said it had earned $1.1-billion, or 88 cents per share, for the quarter. It also said it was cutting 550 customer service jobs.

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The company said the increase in revenue resulted from an accounting change as well as increased spending on American Express cards.

Chief executive Kenneth Chenault said in the earnings release that American Express customers increased their spending on their cards by 15 per cent in the quarter. The company also benefited from fewer losses on soured loans.

"Unemployment levels and housing remain a concern, but other aspects of the economy continue to show signs of improvement," he said.

American Express, which lends directly to consumers but also competes with Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. to process credit card transactions, has recovered from the financial crisis more fully than many other consumer lenders.

The company's shares closed down less than 1 per cent at $45.79 on Monday, and fell about 1.1 per cent in after-hours trading.

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