Commerce Bancshares Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., said its first-quarter earnings rose 43% from a year earlier, to $44.2 million.

The $18 billion-asset company credited increased revenue and a reduced loan-loss provision.

David W. Kemper, Commerce's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release Thursday that "loan demand remains challenging."

"Loan balances continued to decline this quarter as credit demand remains weak from both consumers and corporate borrowers," Kemper said.

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