Profit earned by China's major banks grew at the weakest rate in years as growth in the world's second-largest economy slipped to a 24-year low in 2014.
Profit growth for China's five biggest banks all slowed to single digits last year, with net profit in Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) up 8 percent, its first single-digit profit rise after an expansion of 14.52 percent in 2013.
Net profit of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China and China Construction Bank as well as Bank of Communications rose 5.07 percent, 8.22 percent, 6.1 percent and 5.72 percent in 2014, respectively. The growth was down from 10.17 percent, 12.35 percent, 11.11 percent and 6.82 percent registered in 2013, Monday's Money Weekly reported.
Combined net profits of the five banks reached 927.09 billion yuan (151.24 billion U.S. dollars) in 2014, close to 60 percent of that made by the entire industry.
Meanwhile, bad loans were on the rise, with non-performing loans (NPL) at the five banks all exceeding one percent, which will remain a challenge for the industry in 2015, the magazine said.
NPL ratio of China's entire banking industry rose to 1.64 percent as of the end of last year as economic growth slowed and some local governments and companies grappled with debt problems.
The magazine cited Song Xianping, head of risk control with ABC, as saying an average NPL ratio of between two and three percent would be an industry trend as the Chinese economy enters a "new normal" of slower growth.