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Loan, margin growth lift Emirates NBD quarterly net profit

DUBAI, April 17 (Reuters) - Emirates NBD, Dubai's largest bank, on Wednesday reported a 15 percent rise in first-quarter net profit as loan growth and improved margins offset an increase in provisions and operating costs.

The bank made a net profit of 2.7 billion dirhams ($735.17 million) in the three months ended March 31, it said, compared with 2.39 billion dirhams in the year-ago period.

Emirates NBD, which is 55.6 percent owned by state fund Investment Corp., and other banks in the United Arab Emirates benefited from a rise in interest rates in 2018.

The lender's net interest margins grew 15 basis points from the corresponding period to 2.83 percent.

Net interest income grew by 14 percent during the first quarter, while non-interest income rose 18 percent.

The bank said a 9 percent increase in costs was due to investments in its digital transformation. ($1 = 3.6726 UAE dirham) (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Louise Heavens)