Agricultural Bank of China (601288.SH, 1288.HKG) reported first-half profits of US$12.7 billion (RMB80.5 billion), an increase of 21% compared to a year earlier as net interest income and fees rose, The Wall Street Journal reported. Net interest income rose 15% to US$26.4 million while fee income rose 4.8% to US$6.1 million. The double-digit profit gains were in line with analyst expectations, but that growth is still far slower than the 45% rise in the first half of 2011. For the second half, the bank said it will “proactively cope” with liberalization of interest rates – the central bank has raised deposit rates and cut lending rates this year – as well as higher capital adequacy ratios and a slowing economy. AgBank should be better positioned than most to retain customers in the face of interest rate liberalization, Barclays said, as a large portion of rural residents traditionally keep their money with the bank.
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