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BUSINESS IN SHORT

Housing craze keeps bank profits up

BANKS operating in Slovakia earned a net profit of almost Sk4.8 billion during the first quarter of 2008.

BANKS operating in Slovakia earned a net profit of almost Sk4.8 billion during the first quarter of 2008.

This is a moderate increase compared to the same period last year. The banks collected more than Sk4 billion in fees and commissions, the Pravda daily wrote.

The public's high interest in mortgages is the primary reason behind the earnings. The country's three biggest banks - Slovenská Sporiteľňa, VÚB and Tatra Banka - reported a 36-50 percent rise in mortgages for the first quarter of 2008.

The biggest banks provided about 60 percent of all mortgages. Last year, banks lent Sk64 billion in mortgages, which was the highest amount since the product was introduced in the country.

"The fast pace of lending will continue this year," the National Bank of Slovakia predicted following an analysis of the financial sector in 2007.

It expects a greater increase in loans outside Bratislava.

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