March 29, 2018 / 9:53 AM / in 8 months

Bank of China fourth-quarter profit drops less than expected on higher interest income

A Bank of China logo is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. Picture taken October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Bank of China Ltd (BoC) (601988.SS) (3988.HK), the country’s fourth-largest lender by assets, reported a smaller-than-expected drop in quarterly profit, helped by rising interest income and falling operating expenses.

Profit reached 26.9 billion yuan ($4.28 billion) for the quarter ended December, down 10 percent from 29.8 billion yuan a year ago. This was, however, better than an average estimate of 25.51 billion yuan from 18 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

For 2017, net profit rose about 5 percent to 172.41 billion yuan from 164.578 billion yuan a year ago.

BoC’s non-performing loan ratio was 1.45 percent as at end-December, from 1.41 percent at end-September.

Its operating expenses fell 0.69 percent from a year ago to 173.86 billion yuan in 2017, while net interest income rose 10.57 percent to 338.39 billion yuan over the period.

BoC’s net interest margins (NIM) - the difference between interest paid and earned by banks - was reported at 1.84 percent for 2017, versus 1.83 percent for the year ago.

($1 = 6.2888 Chinese yuan)

Reporting by Engen Tham in SHANGHAI and Matthew Miller in BEIJING; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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