Alpha Bank, the country’s third-largest lender, reported yesterday a smaller-than-expected drop in first-half net profit and described the second quarter as showing more signs of economic stability. Alpha Bank’s net profit between January and June fell 48.2 percent year-on-year to 214.7 million euros, beating a 180.5-million-euro figure expected by analysts, according to Reuters. «In the second quarter of this year we have seen signs of increasing stability in macroeconomic conditions after a period of considerable uncertainty,» said Alpha Bank Chairman Yannis Costopoulos in a statement. Slowing economic activity in Greece and Southeastern Europe led to a drop in profits as net interest income fell almost 6 percent from last year to 844.9 million euros. On the costs side, operating expenses increased in the first half by just over 3 percent as the bank reined in branch expansion and moved ahead with a «marginal» head-count reduction. Nonperforming loans – a loan that is in default or close to being in default – increased 50 basis points in the second quarter to hit 4.8 percent at the end of June. Shares in Alpha Bank, with a market value of 4.54 billion euros, have added 20 percent in the last month versus a 6.9 percent advance in the broader market.