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Agricultural Bank of China profit edges up 1.5 per cent as country's economic growth slows

BEIJING, China – Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., one of the country’s four major state-owned commercial lenders, says its quarterly profit edged up just 1.5 per cent as the country’s economic growth slowed.

The Beijing-based bank said it earned 54.3 billion yuan ($8.7 billion), or 0.17 yuan (2 U.S. cents) per share, in the three months ending March 31. Operating income rose 2.9 per cent to 140.6 billion yuan ($22.6 billion).

The bank said its rise in profit was due largely to a 6.1 per cent gain in net interest income to 109.4 billion yuan ($17.6 billion).

Revenue growth for China’s state-owned banking industry has declined as economic growth cooled from the double-digit rates of the past decade. Growth slowed to 7 per cent in the latest quarter.

Bank profits also have been squeezed as Beijing gradually narrows the margin between lending and deposit rates to encourage consumer spending by shifting more money to savers.

Agricultural Bank’s revenue growth was the slowest since 2010 but the results reflect “good cost control,” Barclays said in a report.

The bank said its total assets rose 5.4 per cent over the course of the quarter to 16.8 trillion yuan ($2.7 trillion) yuan as of March 31.

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Agricultural Bank of China: www.abchina.com