Photography by Bloomberg — Getty Images
By Reuters
July 18, 2016

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, reported a 19.4 percent fall in quarterly profit on Monday as low lending rates dented its interest income.

However, the bank’s profit beat lowered market expectations.

Net income attributable to BofA’s common shareholders fell to $3.87 billion, or 36 cents per share, in the second quarter ended June 30, from $4.80 billion, or 43 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the bank earned 37 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 33 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net interest income fell 12% to $9.2 billion in the quarter.

Like all big banks, BofA’s ability to boost earnings has been hampered by persistently low interest rates and stricter capital requirements. That has meant it has had to resort to heavy cost-cutting to drive earnings.

BofA’s non-interest expenses fell 3.3% to $13.49 billion in the latest quarter.

“We continued to invest in core growth areas and to manage expenses, which were down 3% year over year to a level not seen since 2008,” Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said in a statement.

BofA has been closing retail branches and reducing overall headcount, while increasing hiring for sales staff.

Before Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union, the U.S. Federal Reserve had been widely expected to raise interest rates at least twice this year, after raising them for the first time in nearly a decade in December.

Now, there are doubts that there will be any rate hike at all in 2016.

The bank, whose shares were little changed in premarket trading, said provisions for bad loans rose 25% to $976 million.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had been expected to be one of the worst-performing banks in the quarter, in part due to its large exposure to the energy sector.

Of the other big U.S. banks that have reported so far, JPMorgan Chase (jpm) profit fell 1.6 percent, Citigroup (c) Inc’s 14 percent and Wells Fargo (wfc) 3.5 percent.

Bank of America’s adjusted trading revenue increased 11.7% to $3.70 billion in the quarter. Fixed income, currency and commodities trading revenue rose 22.2%, while revenue from its smaller equities trading business slipped 7.6%.

Moynihan said in June that the bank’s trading business was on track for mid-single digit percentage revenue growth.

Total adjusted revenue fell 7.02% to $20.62 billion.

BofA said last month it would buy back $5 billion of shares after clearing the latest round of Federal Reserve stress tests that evaluated its ability to withstand a financial crisis.

Up to Friday’s close of $13.66, Bank of America’s shares had fallen about 19% since the start of the year. The KBW bank index fell 8% over the period.


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