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Sweden’s SEB, Handelsbanken beat forecasts but Ukraine, inflation cloud outlook

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A branch of Handelsbanken is seen in Wilmslow, northern England January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Phil Noble

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish banking group Handelsbanken reported a year-on-year rise in its first-quarter operating earnings on Wednesday on the back of higher interest and commission income.

Operating earnings at the 150-year-old bank, a rival of Swedbank and SEB as well as Nordic peers such as Nordea, rose to 6.59 billion Swedish crowns ($671 million) from 5.31 billion crowns a year earlier.

Boosted by strong Swedish economic recovery from the initial fallout amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Handelsbanken racked up record earnings at the end of last year, but since then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has jarred prospects for the global economy.

The war, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, has lifted an already resurgent inflation to levels unseen in decades and left central banks such as Sweden’s poised to hike interest rates, raising uncertainty for households, banks and the wider economy.

“In summarising the first quarter, we can conclude that the bank stands strong during a period of an increasingly uncertain world around us, and we see good opportunities for improved growth, efficiency and profitability,” Handelsbanken Chief Executive Officer Carina Akerstrom said in a statement.

Handelsbanken, whose main markets are Sweden, Norway and Britain, said its net interest income, which includes revenue from mortgages, rose to 8.01 billion crowns from 7.43 billion crowns in the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, commission income rose to 2.91 billion crowns in the quarter from a year-ago 2.66 billion crowns, while credit losses narrowed marginally to 6 million crowns from 11 million crowns posted a year earlier.

($1 = 9.8179 Swedish crowns)

Handelsbanken quarterly profit surges on higher interest income

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