MILAN, March 9 (Reuters) - Bad loans at Italian banks stood at 197.9 billion euros ($209 billion) in January in gross terms, the Bank of Italy said on Thursday, highlighting a major drag on lenders' profitability and capital.
Loans to borrowers deemed insolvent ('sofferenze') were down slightly from an end-2016 figure of 200.85 billion euros, the data showed, but were up 4 percent compared to January 2016. The annual increase was 5.6 percent in December.
Sofferenze accounted for around 8 percent of total loans, the monthly bulletin said.
The Bank of Italy said loans to companies rose 0.9 percent in January after a 0.2 percent increase in December.
$1 = 0.9471 euros Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Francesca Landini