Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world's biggest lender by market value, posted flat fourth quarter earnings as an increase in provisions against soured assets offset growth in lending.
State-run ICBC posted fourth quarter net income of 18.11 billion yuan ($2.65 billion), compared with 18.02 billion yuan a year earlier.
For the year, ICBC earned 110.84 billion yuan, up 36 percent from the 81.5 billion yuan it earned in 2007.
Across the Chinese banking industry, credit costs are forecast to rise this year on higher provisions against bad loans, while interest margins tighten following a spree of interest rate cuts late last year as the government takes measures to keep the economy growing at 8 percent or above.
Chinese banks, less battered than their overseas rivals by the global economic slowdown, hold the top three spots by market value among global banks, with ICBC by far the largest at $178.6 billion, ahead of China Construction Bank and Bank of China.
Hong Kong shares in ICBC have lost 26 percent in the 52 weeks through Tuesday, worse than the 21 percent and 12 percent declines seen by Bank of China and China Construction Bank.