Handelsbanken profits up as loan losses fall

Handelsbanken profits up as loan losses fall
Sweden’s Handelsbanken reported 12 percent increase in net profits for the third quarter on Wednesday, as reduced losses on lending activities made up for falling net interest income.

Between July and September, Sweden’s second-biggest bank in terms of capitalisation made a net profit of 2.71 billion kronor ($402.2 million).

The amount beat the expectations of analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires, who had forecasted a net profit of 2.66 billion kronor.

Handelsbanken said its net interest income fell five percent on a year-on-year basis to 5.33 billion kronor, attributing the drop to an unfavorable exchange rate and weak lending demand from businesses.

But the bank noted “the improving economic climate was reflected in an increased volume of credit commitments, which continued to rise during the quarter.”

“Household credit volumes continued to increase,” it said.

Compared to the previous quarter, net interest income was up 5.0 percent and slightly above the expected level of 5.25 billion.

The bank slashed its losses on lending activities to 294 million kronor from 866 million kronor a year earlier, thanks to a 92-percent-drop in losses in Sweden, where the economy is healthier than elsewhere in Europe.

Handlesbanken has little exposure to Baltic countries which have been severely affected by the global economic crisis, in contrast to competitor banks Nordea, SEB and Swedbank which have taken big losses in the region.

Shortly after noon, the bank’s share price was trading down 1.82 percent at 221.5 kroner on a flat Stockholm stock exchange.

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