National Australia Bank profit set to miss analyst fcast; shares drop

SYDNEY Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:37pm EDT

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SYDNEY Oct 19 (Reuters) - National Australia Bank, the country's top lender by assets, flagged weaker-than-expected fourth quarter cash earnings and raised provisions to reflect slowing economic growth, knocking its shares down 3.4 percent on Friday.

NAB, which is shrinking its British operations after a review, said it expected fourth quarter cash earnings of A$1.4 billion ($1.45 billion), compared with analyst expectations for a cash profit for A$1.5 billion.

NAB said it will increase provisions by A$250 million in response to weaker growth expectations in its core Australian market and troubled British unit.

NAB shares were down 3.4 percent at A$26.05 at 2329 GMT. The broader market was 0.45 percent lower.

The bank is set to report full-year results on Oct. 31.