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Brazil's largest banks tighten purse strings to squeeze out higher Q4'17 profits

Brazil's major banks continued to curb their expenses in the final quarter of 2017, helping to bolster their bottom lines despite suffering a drop in operational income.

Fourth-quarter net income for the country's three biggest listed banks — Itaú Unibanco Holding SA, Banco Bradesco SA and Banco do Brasil SA — collectively rose by 26% year over year. The result came as a decline in financial income was offset by both lower loan loss provisions, which fell by 23%, and expenses from other financial operations, which sank 31.9%.

Results were also aided by an improvement in other operating expenses, as well as by lower costs from taxes and profit sharing.

Among the three banks, Banco do Brasil SA stood out with a dramatic 224% spike in quarterly profit as compared to a year earlier, hitting 3.11 billion Brazilian reais, though both Itaú Unibanco and Banco Bradesco also recorded year-over-year improvements in net income.

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As of Feb. 23, US$1 was equivalent to 3.24 Brazilian reais.