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Although each passing quarter puts more space between Mexico’s banks and the severe recession of 2008-09, the country’s largest lenders remain hesitant. Even compared with last year, the toughest operating environment for banks in more than a decade, third-quarter earnings at the top five financial groups—which control about three quarters of all banking assets—were distinctly ambivalent.

While most of the banks reported year-on-year earnings growth in the third quarter, this was generally due to a decline in loan-loss provisions, as non-performing loan ratios steadily return to their historically average levels. In terms of core business, Mexico’s low interest rates continue to put pressure on net interest income nearly across the board.

But while earnings did little to impress, the third quarter nonetheless suggested a possible inflection point in credit growth.

Read more at Financial Services Briefing: “Cautiously optimistic” (November 2nd)