Bank of Communications announced a 31% jump in first-half profit to US$756.96 million from US$578.71 million a year earlier, a result of increasing loans as a share of its business. The mainland's fifth-largest commercial lender's net interest income climbed 22.77% to US$2.30 billion, or 90.9% of net operating income, in the six-month period. The ratio of loans to deposits rose 3.69 percentage points from the end of last year to 67.14% by June as deposits grew a slower 10.33% to US$169.47 billion. Net interest margin dropped 0.13 percentage points from a year earlier to 2.57%, but rebounded 0.06 percentage points since the first quarter. The bank forecast stable lending growth in the rest of the year despite government austerity measures aimed at slowing loan growth.