China Construction Bank (CCB) is to enter the Hong Kong banking market through the US$1.24 billion purchase of Bank of America's (BOA) Hong Kong and Macau operations. CCB made the announcement as it posted an 18% decrease in first-half profit Thursday, although it pointed out that, if a large tax benefit received in 2005 is excluded, earnings actually rose 13% between January and June. CCB's earnings for the period came to a total of US$2.57 billion, which fell short of analysts' expectations. The country's third-largest lender has been hampered by credit controls introduced by Beijing to prevent further overheating in the economy. Loan growth is expected to slow in the second half of the year and CCB is already trying to diversify its services, with fee and commissions income, including revenue from credit card operations, rising 61% in the first half to US$790 million.