Century Bancorp Inc. in Medford, Mass., reported on Tuesday that its first-quarter earnings rose 9% from a year earlier, to $3.7 million.

The $2.56 billion-asset company attributed the increase to a smaller loan-loss provision and higher net interest income.

Century said net interest income rose 9.4% from a year earlier, to $13.9 million. It said the improved results were tied to balance sheet growth and a net interest margin that expanded 9 basis points from a year earlier, to 2.64%. The provision fell 25% from a year earlier, to $1.2 million, and nonperforming assets fell 2%, to $11.6 million.

Despite the year-over-year improvement, nonperforming assets rose 45% from a quarter earlier, when such assets totaled $8 million. Century increased its allowance for loan losses to $15 million, or 1.58% of total loans. That compared with 1.55% at Dec. 31 and 1.5% a year earlier.

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