SYDNEY, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia , the country's biggest mortgage lender, said on Wednesday its first-half cash profit rose 6 percent to a record high, buoyed by lower funding costs.
The A$3.78 billion ($3.90 billion) cash profit compared with A$3.576 billion reported a year ago and was in line with analysts' expectations of A$3.740 billion according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S data.
Cash profit, which excludes one-offs and non-cash accounting items, is closely watched by investors.
The bank lifted its dividend by 20 percent to A$1.64.
CBA's earnings are viewed as a bellwether for the Australian banking sector as it reports on an earlier schedule to the country's other 'Big Four' banks -- Westpac Banking Corp , National Australia Bank and Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp.
CBA and its peers are benefiting from a recent fall in funding costs in the wholesale market, which has tempered a slow slide in consumer confidence amid an easing of Australia's powerful mining boom. ($1 = 0.9700 Australian dollars) (Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Richard Pullin)