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Bank of China Q1 profit rises 1.7%, bad loans weigh

[SHANGHAI] Bank of China Ltd (BoC) , the country's fourth-biggest lender by assets, posted a 1.7 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, even as bad loans weighed on its balance sheet.

Profit rose to 46.6 billion yuan (S$9.09 billion) in the three months ended March 31, from 45.8 billion yuan a year earlier.

While BoC said its non-performing loan ratio remained flat at 1.43 per cent at end-March from end-December, the ratio of its allowance for loan impairment losses fell to 149.07 per cent, below 150 per cent guideline of China's banking regulator.

BoC reported a loan-loss allowance ratio of 154 per cent at the end of last year.

Chinese banks are grappling with a rise in bad debt and weak profit growth due to China's economic slowdown. The world's second-largest economy grew at its weakest pace in a quarter century in 2015.

BoC reported that its return on average equity declined 2.16 per centage points during the first three months to 14.77 per cent, from 16.93 per cent at the end of last year.

BoC stock gained 0.95 per cent to close at HK$3.20 in Hong Kong trading. The shares have lost 7.5 per cent so far this year, and shed more than 40 per cent over the last 12 months.

It is the first of China's Big Five banks to report first-quarter earnings.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) , Agricultural Bank of China Ltd and Bank of Communications Co Ltd will report earnings on Thursday, followed by China Construction Bank Corp on Friday.

REUTERS