Bank of China (601988.SH, 3988.HKG), the nation’s third-largest lender by assets, said growth in its first-quarter profit declined to 10% from 10.8% in the previous quarter and 28% one year earlier due to the gradual slowdown in China’s economy, Bloomberg reported. Net profit rose to US$5.8 billion from US$5.3 billion last year, while net interest income surged 13.2% to US$9.6 billion for the first quarter. Net fee and commission income climbed 13.8% to US$3.3 billion. Non-performing loans increased by US$104.8 million to US$10.0 billion, accounting for 0.97% of the bank’s total loans. “Profit growth at Bank of China slowed because of the country’s macroeconomic environment. If China loosens its monetary policy, loan growth may pick up in the second half and bolster Chinese banks’ revenues,” said Lewis Wan, chief investment officer at Pride Investments Group.