China Merchants Bank (CMB), the country’s biggest non-state-owned lender, reported a 127% rise in second-half earnings in 2007, beating estimates, Reuters reported. Its net profit for the second half of last year was US$1.3 billion, compared to US$565 million for the same period in 2006. A Reuters poll found that analysts estimated the bank’s profits would be US$1.14 billion for the second half of 2007. The bank’s chairman said the higher profits were due to an increase in loan and interest spreads. CMB’s ratio of non-performing loans against total lending dropped to 1.54% in 2007, compared to 2.12% in 2006. Its Hong Kong-listed shares have been down 32.8% this year, compared to a 24% drop in the Hang Seng Index overall.