Bank of Communications, China's fifth-biggest lender by assets, posted flat quarterly profit due to lower margins, but growing lending amid a liquidity squeeze helped the bank turn in a better-than-expected annual result.
BoCom, the first bank among the Big Five lenders to report annual earnings, saw its full-year profit rise 1.03 percent to 67.21 billion yuan (.8 billion) by the end of 2016, according to its annual report filed to both the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges yesterday.
Its fourth-quarter profit was 14.63 billion yuan, compared with 14.49 billion yuan a year earlier.
BoCom's net interest margin, a key gauge of profitability of Chinese banks, was 1.88 percent in December, the lowest since at least the end of 2011 and down from 1.91 percent in September. The bank's net interest income fell to 134.87 billion yuan last year from 144.17 billion yuan a year ago.
BoCom's non-performing loan ratio improved slightly as it fell to 1.52 percent in December from 1.53 percent a year earlier due to tighter risk control, the lender said.