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Tue 17 Apr 2007 08:29 PM

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Qatar Commercial Bank profit hits record

First-quarter profit rose 16.9% to $73.23m, says the bank.

Commercial Bank of Qatar, the country's second-largest lender by market value, posted a record quarterly profit by nearly doubling fees and commissions and growing its lending business.

Commercial Bank said first-quarter profit rose 16.9% to 266.43 million riyals ($73.23 million), or 1.90 riyals per share, compared with 227.79 million riyals, or 1.63 riyals per share, in the year-earlier period.

The lender continued a run of strong earnings for banks in the fourth-largest Gulf Arab economy.

Net interest income in the quarter rose 29.1% 200.55 million riyals, while net fee and commission income jumped 95.2% to 150.40 million dirhams, Qatar Commercial said in a statement on the Doha bourse website.

Total assets increased 34.5% to 31.49 billion riyals, while operating income jumped 34.3% to 426.32 million riyals.

Analysts, including Rami Sidani of investment bank Shuaa Capital, said banking stocks would lead a recovery on the Doha bourse, the Gulf's worst-performing stock market this year.

Shares of Qatar Commercial Bank were unchanged on Tuesday. They are down 12.35% this year.

Qatar National Bank, the country's largest lender by market value, has rallied 6.3% since April 9, when it posted record profits in the first quarter after boosting income from loans, fees and commissions.

Al-Ahli Bank of Qatar and Doha Bank also recorded profit growth in the three-month period.

Global Investment House forecast in a Reuters survey last month that Commercial Bank's first-quarter profit would rise 48.9%. Dlala Brokerage & Investment Holding predicted profit would fall 36.4%.

Qatar's economy, based on oil and gas, will surge 8.5% in 2007, the fastest pace in at least three years, according to Standard Chartered Plc.

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