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Tue 19 Jan 2010 07:28 PM

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Qatar banks Dec provisions up 12.5% - Central Bank

Market says high provisions due to exposure to debt laden Saudi conglomerates.

Provisions made by Qatari banks rose 12.5 percent in December compared with the previous month, while loans edged up slightly, the Gulf country's central bank data showed on Tuesday.

Total provisions reached $1.62 billion last month, up from 5.2 billion in November.

Bank loans in the world's largest natural gas exporter grew 0.7 percent to $61.6 billion, the data showed.

Specific loan provisions rose 16.2 percent to $746.6 million.

Farah Ahmed Hersi, senior economist at Masraf Al Rayan in Doha said the market consensus view was that some banks took high provisions due to exposure to two debt laden Saudi conglomerates.

He said: "Overall, the banks are standing on solid ground. Generally speaking, Qatari banks have very solid government support."

Commercial Bank of Qatar reported a 33 percent rise in its fourth quarter net profit, despite a $45.3 million hit related to a corporate default.

Total assets in the country's banking sector rose 2.2 percent to $125,6 million, the data showed. (Reuters)

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