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Swedbank's quarterly profit tops forecast as interest income gives boost

FILE PHOTO: Swedbank logo is pictured on its branch in Riga

By Johan Ahlander

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -Swedbank on Thursday reported a better-than-expected operating profit for the third quarter, underpinned by strong income from mortgages.

The Swedish bank said in a statement its quarterly operating profit rose 24% to 8.70 billion crowns ($801 million) from 7.03 billion crowns posted last year, beating the 7.19 billion crowns seen by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.

"The quarter was marked by high and rising inflation and the response by central banks to tackle this," Swedbank CEO Jens Henriksson said during a conference call. "Due to our position and business model, our net interest income benefits from this."

Soaring inflation, fuelled in part by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, has seen central banks rapidly hiking rates, lifting interest income at Swedish banks but also squeezing households and businesses and depressing stock markets, potentially driving a rise in loan losses in the coming quarters.

"So far, we have not seen any material changes to the credit quality. The reservations we have made of 600 million crowns are macro and model-driven," Henriksson said.

Swedbank, a rival of banks such as Handelsbanken, SEB and Nordea, said its interest income, which includes revenue from mortgages, rose to 8.36 billion crowns from 6.79 billion crowns a year ago and above the 7.56 billion analysts had forecast.

Commission income fell to 3.63 billion crowns from 3.80 billion crowns last year, beating the 3.53 billion seen by analysts.

Swedbank said high inflation, especially in the Baltic countries, meant that full-year expenses were likely to be around 1% higher than the cost cap of 20.5 billion crowns.

($1 = 10.8585 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander, Editing by Terje Solsvik, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Lincoln Feast.)