SYDNEY May 5 Australia's Westpac Banking Corp
said on Monday its first-half cash profit rose 8
percent to a record high, beating expectations, thanks to solid
growth in lending and a fall in bad debts.
Westpac, Australia's second biggest bank by market value,
said cash profit rose to A$3.77 billion ($3.49 billion) in the
six months to March 31, compared with a consensus forecast of
A$3.6 billion and up from A$3.53 billion a year ago. It declared
a dividend of A$0.90 per share, up 5 percent.
Australian banks are on track for a sixth straight year of
record profits, bolstered by low interest rates which are
encouraging borrowers and shrinking costs associated with bad
debt provisions even as net interest margins come under
($1 = 1.0795 Australian Dollars)
(Reporting by Swati Pandey and Lincoln Feast; Editing by