Profits at Ulster Bank fell sharply in the first half of 2019, its latest financial results show.

The bank's operating profit fell from €100m in the first half of 2018 to €26m in the first six months of this year.

Operating expenses increased over the same period from €285m last year to €322m in 2019.

Its total income decreased to €324m from €355m last year.

Commenting on the results, Ulster Bank Chief Executive Jane Howard said: 

"We have made good progress in 2019 with new lending increasing to our personal customers and we have also increased new lending to our business customers.  

"We have maintained a strong capital position while continuing to invest in our business. We remain on track and focused on our strategic priorities towards building a stronger, sustainable, simpler bank for our customers".

The bank also said it had increased its mortgage market share of drawdowns to 16.5% and provided €830m in new lending to business customers.

Its customer deposits increased by €1.8bn or 9%.