Third-quarter earnings at Commerce Bancshares Inc. in Kansas City, Mo., surprised analysts — in a good way.

The $17.7 billion-asset Commerce said Wednesday that its net income jumped 109%, from a year earlier and 40%, from the second quarter, to $51.6 million. Its profit of 66 cents per share beat the average estimate of analysts by 15 cents, partly because of better-than-expected credit quality and a fatter net interest margin.

The provision for loan losses shrunk 14%, from the second quarter, to $35.4 million, as nonperforming assets dipped 2%, to $129 million, or 0.72% of total assets. Net chargeoffs fell 14%, to $30.9 million.

Still, the net interest margin widened by 11 basis points from the second quarter, to 4.02%, mostly on declining rates for certificates of deposit.

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