HONG KONG (AP) — China Construction Bank, one of China's four major state-owned lenders, has posted the slowest first-half profit growth since 2009 amid government interest rate reforms and slowing economic growth.

The bank said late Sunday profit rose 14.5 percent to 106.28 billion yuan ($16.7 billion), or 0.43 yuan (7 U.S. cents) per share. That's down sharply from a year ago, when net income grew 31 percent.

Interest income rose 16.5 percent to 169.7 billion yuan ($49.1 billion).

China Construction Bank said there are still "many challenges" for the global recovery in the second half of 2012. The bank said it does not expect authorities to change any policies on restrictions to mortgages and lending.

It also expects recent relaxations on deposit and lending rates to result in more "intensive competition" among banks.