Commerce earnings up 8.2 percent, lending soft

Despite soft demand for loans and lower overdraft fees, Commerce Bancshares said its profits rose during the second quarter.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based company said earnings reached $55.9 million, or 67 cents a share, compared with $51.6 million, or 63 cents a share a year earlier.

Its profits matched analysts' estimates, according to an average calculated by Bloomberg News. Shares of Commerce stock were down 77 cents at $37.00 after the morning news.

Commerce's announcement said the bank continues to "compete vigorously" for business borrowers but finds tepid demand for loans. It recently agreed to lend $100 million to small businesses in Missouri under a program that would bring low-cost state deposits to the bank as it makes the loans.

One plus was improvement in the bank's loan quality. It said problem assets fell to 0.5 percent of all assets, compared with 0.7 percent a year ago.

New rules on overdraft charges cut into consumer deposit fees, Commerce said. But this was offset at least partly by higher revenues from credit card and debit cards.

Assets at the end of September totaled $18.8 billion, of which $10 billion were loans. Deposits totaled $14.4 billion.