DUBAI: National Bank of Kuwait, the country’s biggest lender, reported a 15.1 per cent rise in first-quarter profit, helped by higher net interest income and lower provisioning charges, beating analysts’ forecasts.

The bank said net profit totalled 107.7 million Kuwaiti dinars (Dh1.29 billion) during the January to March period, up from 93.6 million dinars a year earlier.

EFG Hermes had made a net profit projection for NBK of 100 dinars for the period, while SICO Bahrain had an estimate of 96 million dinars.

The bank said the increase in net interest income reflected strong growth in business volumes.

Big Kuwaiti lenders such as NBK have benefited from increased spending on government-backed projects, supported by higher oil prices. Analysts expect corporate borrowing appetite will continue to improve in Kuwait amid higher oil prices.

Oil markets have been lifted by more than 30 per cent this year by supply cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and US sanctions on oil exporters Iran and Venezuela, plus escalating conflict in Opec member Libya.