Fees and loans drove up third-quarter profits at Commerce Bancshares in Kansas City, Mo.

The $24.7 billion-asset parent of Commerce Bank said that net income climbed 6% to $68.5 million from the year-earlier quarter.

Net interest income increased 5.6% to $171.2 million. Total loans grew 8.2% to $13.2 billion, while the loan-loss provision declined 13% to $7.3 million and net chargeoffs dropped 21.5% to $6.6 million.

Similarly, noninterest income increased 7.2% to $119.3 million thanks to gains in bank card, deposit, trust, sweep, tax credit sales and loan fees and sales income, which was partly offset by lower swap fees.

"The increase in fees resulted mainly from higher commercial card, deposit, and trust fee income, while loan and sweep fees also showed good growth," David Kemper, Commerce's chairman and chief executive, said in a news release Friday. "The increase in net interest income continues to be driven by overall growth in average loans and higher overall earning assets."

Noninterest expense increased 5.7% to $181.2 million mainly because of higher costs for salaries and benefits, occupancy, data processing and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insurance expense.

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