Sandy Spring Bancorp Inc. said Thursday that second quarter net earnings rose 32%, to $8.3 million, compared with a year earlier after it slashed its provision by 80%.

The Olney, Md.-based parent company of Sandy Spring Bank set aside $1.2 million for loan losses, down from $6.1 million a year ago and $1.5 million in the previous quarter.

The lower provision was due to a 52% decrease in nonperforming loans during the period, to $83.4 million.

Sandy Spring’s net interest margin remained flat at 3.58% compared to the second quarter 2010 while its loan balances continued to decline.

However, the $3.6 billion-asset company said it booked $115 million in new commercial loans for the first half of the year.

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