May 25, 2017 / 6:57 AM / in 2 years

UPDATE 1-Maybank posts 19 pct profit rise on loans growth, lower impairment loss

* Q1 net profit 1.7 bln rgt vs 1.2 bln avg forecast of 3 analysts

* Loans grew 10.1 pct, NIM improved to 2.43 pct vs 2.34 pct

* Net impairment losses down by 38.2 pct (Adds details of earnings)

By Liz Lee

KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 (Reuters) - Malaysia’s largest lender by assets Maybank posted a better-than-expected 19 percent jump in first-quarter net profit as it made more loans in Southeast Asia and as a restructuring of troubled loans last year helped cut its impairment losses.

Malaysian banks are benefitting from a strengthening domestic economy and a recovery in commodity prices. For most of last year, the commodities downturn and the lingering shadow of a corruption scandal involving state-owned fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad had weighed on them.

Those trends helped CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia’s second-biggest lender, post a record quarterly profit a day before.

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) reported on Thursday a net profit of 1.70 billion ringgit ($397.52 million) for January-March compared to 1.43 billion ringgit a year ago. That beat the 1.2 billion ringgit average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Its loans grew 10.1 percent over the same quarter of last year, led by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, while net interest margin - the difference between interest paid and earned and a key gauge of bank profitability - climbed to 2.43 percent from 2.34 percent.

Maybank said net impairment losses for the quarter fell by 38.2 percent to 542.8 million ringgit.

The bank expects loan growth of 6-7 percent for 2017. ($1 = 4.2765 ringgit) (Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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