China's ICBC shares down after slower profit growth

Shares in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the nation's biggest lender by assets, fell in Hong Kong Thursday after it reported a slowdown in profit growth for 2012.

The firm slipped 1.65 percent to HK$5.36 ($0.69) in morning trade, a day after reporting net profit for rose 15 percent to 238.53 billion yuan ($38.38 billion) last year.

That compared with a jump of 26 percent in 2011 and represented the weakest pace since 2006, with the bank blaming a slowdown in China's economic growth, lower interest rates and a deeper financial regulatory reform.

ICBC's net interest income, which accounts for almost 80 percent of its operating income, increased by 15.2 percent to 417.83 billion yuan.

"Faced with complicated and severe economic and financial situations at home and abroad, the bank adhered to its consistent philosophy of prudential operation in actively coping with a variety of challenges," ICBC said in a statement issued late Wednesday.

Two of China's biggest banks, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China, also recorded weaker profit growth for 2012 this week.

China's economy expanded 7.8 percent in 2012, its slowest pace for 13 years, in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this story --