Loan loss fall boosts Handelsbanken profits

Loan loss fall boosts Handelsbanken profits
Swedish bank Handelsbanken posted a slight increase in profits on Wednesday on the back of a sharp fall in bad loan losses.

In the first quarter, Handelsbanken raised profits by 3.0 percent from the equivalent figure last year to 2.93 billion kronor ($483 million). Loan losses fell by 56 percent to 244 million kronor.

But these figures from the bank, the second-biggest Swedish bank by capitalisation, somewhat disappointed analysts who had expected a profit figure of 3.15 billion kronor and loan losses of 240 million kronor, according to a poll by Dow Jones Newswires.

In early trading, the price of shares in the group was showing a loss of 3.5 percent in an overall market which had gained 0.2 percent.

Net banking income, a key measure of profitability on taking in deposits and making loans, rose by 4.0 percent to 5.5 billion kronor. Analysts had expected a figure of 5.7 billion kronor.

Handelsbanken came through the financial crisis of 2008-2009 without suffering big setbacks in Baltic countries, where Swedish banks had expanded, as was the case for its Swedish rivals Nordea, SEB and Swedbank.

Analysts consider Handelsbanken to be one of the best-capitalised banks in Europe, and to have a prudent strategy.

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