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Bad debts still mount at China's big four banks

Aggregate loan-loss allowance up 7% as soured loans top $118bn

Agricultural Bank of China, one of the top four Chinese banks, saw its nonperforming loan ratio decline from a year ago but the volume increased. (Photo by Kenji Kawase)

HONG KONG -- China's four biggest commercial banks, which reported higher first half net profits and lower non-performing loan ratios, have also been plowing record sums into resolving bad debts on their books, which were still mounting in absolute terms.

The aggregate volume of impaired loans of the four state-owned banks -- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Construction Bank (CCB), Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), and Bank of China (BOC) -- stood at 781.28 billion yuan ($118.43 billion) at the end of June, up 4.6% from a year ago. The ratio of impaired loans to their combined total loan balance was 1.66%, down 10 basis points from a year earlier.

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