May 1, 2018 / 7:38 AM / a year ago

Saudi's Al Rajhi Bank Q1 net profit up 7.3 pct

DUBAI, May 1 (Reuters) - Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest lender by assets, reported a 7.3 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, marking the ninth quarter of earnings growth in a row.

The bank made a net profit of 2.38 billion riyals ($634.63 million) in the three months to March 31, up from 2.2 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in a bourse statement.

SICO Bahrain forecast the bank would make a net profit of 2.42 billion riyals, while EFG Hermes expected a net profit of 2.38 billion riyals.

Saudi banks’ performance in 2018 is expected to be boosted by a surge in liquidity and an anticipated recovery in lending as the government embarks on a stimulus of 72 billion riyals to support private-sector growth over the next four years.

Al Rajhi has reported rising profit growth for nine quarters in a row.

Operating income for the quarter rose by 7.5 percent on the corresponding period of 2017 to 4.1 billion riyals, while profits from special commissions increased 8 percent over the same timeframe to 3.1 billion riyals.

Loans and advances at the end of March stood at 229 billion riyals, flat from the same point of 2017, while deposits rose 4.7 percent to 284 billion riyals over the same period.

$1 = 3.7502 riyals Reporting by Tom Arnold and Saeed Azhar, editing by Louise Heavens

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