Citizens reports earnings hike

Citizens Financial Group reported a 4 percent increase in earnings for the first half of 2006.

The Providence, R.I.-based company, parent of Citizens Bank, had net income for the six months of $1.45 billion -4 percent higher than earnings in the first half of 2005.

The company said a variety of business lines are contributing to its growth, including:
• The number of retail credit card accounts rose by 23 percent.
• RBS Lynk, Citizens’ cards-related merchant services business, now serves 17 percent more merchants than it did a year ago
• Business customer base rose to 460,000
• Average loans increased by 13 percent, with personal lending rising by 11 percent and corporate lending by 14 percent, excluding finance leases.

The company said that average customer deposits increased by 5 percent, but as interest rates have risen, personal and business customers have moved balances from liquid savings to higher-cost deposits, leaving net interest income at $1.92 billion.

Non-interest income rose by 11 percent to $1.09 billion. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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