DUBAI- Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia's second-largest lender by assets, reported a 21 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, helped by higher special commission income and fees.

The bank made 2.89 billion riyals ($771 million) in the three months to March 31, up from 2.38 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in a bourse statement.

Saudi banks' performance in 2019 should be boosted by a surge in liquidity and an anticipated recovery in lending amid higher oil prices.

Saudi Arabia’s economy grew in the fourth quarter of last year at its fastest rate since early 2016 due to an expansion in the oil sector, while non-oil growth was sluggish, statistics agency data showed in March.

Al Rajhi attributed its performance to an increase in total operating income, due to special commission income and fees.

Operating income for the quarter rose by 12 percent year-on-year to 4.64 billion riyals, while profits from special commissions increased 15 percent over the same timeframe to 3.94 billion riyals.

Loans and advances at the end of March stood at 236.42 billion riyals, up 3.6 percent year-on-year, while deposits rose 3.4 percent to 293.5 billion riyals over the same period.

($1 = 3.7500 riyals)

(Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir, Editing by Hadeel Al Sayegh and Mark Potter) ((; +971566883310;))