Bank of Communications and China Everbright Bank yesterday reported better pretax profit for the first half, helped by strong economic growth in the mainland. Shanghai-based Bank of Communications produced a 2.98 billion yuan (about HK$2.79 billion) profit in the first half this year, up 14.6 per cent from the same period last year, the Financial News reported. It is the country's fifth-largest commercial lender. China Everbright Bank, the country's sixth-largest commercial bank, reported a pretax net profit of 1.12 billion yuan in the half, up 39.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, according to Reuters. The strong growth comes after China Construction Bank - one of the big four state banks - announced a first-half profit gain of 35 per cent to 6.15 billion yuan. In the half, Bank of Communications lent 17.9 billion yuan in local currency loans and US$160 million in foreign currency loans. According to Financial News, the bank's deposits grew by a record 55.3 billion yuan in the first half while foreign currency deposits edged up by US$11 million. The paper also quoted president Fang Chengguo as saying it would continue to work hard to attract foreign investors to take a stake in the bank. Talks have continued for more than a year but the bank has yet to announce a strategic foreign investor. Separately, China Everbright Bank said its non-performing loan ratio fell 2.85 percentage points. However, the Reuters report did not say where this ratio stood after the drop. Its loans rose 14.1 per cent to 166.2 billion yuan in the first half, while deposits were up 16.5 per cent to 234.5 billion yuan.