By Tom Arnold
DUBAI Saudi Arabia's National Commercial Bank (NCB), the kingdom's largest lender, reported a 8.4 percent rise in third-quarter net profit on Sunday, helped by a fall in expenses and provisions for bad loans.
The bank made a net profit of 2.13 billion riyals ($568 million) in the three months to Sept. 30, down from 1.96 billion riyals in the same period of 2016, it said in a bourse statement.
SICO Bahrain forecast NCB would make a quarterly profit of 2.29 billion riyals.
The bank was helped by a fall in operating expenses and impairment charges for financing and investments.
Banks in the kingdom have been helped by an improvement in liquidity in recent months but analysts have warned that lenders are likely to face a rise in non-performing loans as the economy continues to slow.
Earlier on Sunday, Al Rajhi Bank , the kingdom's second-largest lender by assets, reported a 12.7 percent rise in third-quarter net profit, in line with analysts' forecasts.
Deposits at NCB, which has perhaps the closest links to the government, slipped 2.8 percent year on year to 302.59 billion riyals at the end of September, continuing the decline in levels seen in the first half of 2017 and 2016.
Saudi banks faced an outflow of deposits last year as falling oil prices strained public finances. Most of those deposits have since returned.
($1 = 3.7502 riyals)
(Reporting By Tom Arnold, editing by David Evans) ((Tom.Arnold@thomsonreuters.com; +97144536265; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))