SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) — South Korean banks saw their first-half earnings fall 17.5 percent from a year earlier due to increased loan-loss provisions, data showed Thursday.

The combined net profit stood at 6.9 trillion won (US$5.8 billion) for the January-June period, compared with a profit of 8.4 trillion won a year earlier, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said in a statement.

Preliminary interest income for the first half of this year stood at 20.3 trillion won, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

Loan-loss provisions jumped 157 percent on-year to 3.3 trillion won in the first half of this year, the FSS said.

The average net interest margin of the banks, a key barometer of profitability, stood at 1.44 percent for the first half, compared with 1.61 percent a year ago.’