TOKYO, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group , Japan's third-largest lender, said its first-half net profit exceeded its earnings guidance issued in May by nearly one-third, boosted by strong bond trading gains and lower credit costs.
SMFG said on Friday that its net profit likely came in at 330 billion yen ($4.12 billion) for the six months to Sept. 30, up from its May forecast of 250 billion yen and a 5 percent increase from 313.8 billion yen a year earlier.
Gains from trading in Japanese government bonds continued to drive the bank's profits as the country's sovereign debt offered investors safe-haven appeal amid shaky economic conditions and a lack of demand for loans among corporate clients.
The profit growth defied hefty valuation losses on the bank's equity portfolio. SMFG said it booked 150 billion yen in equity impairment losses for the first half.
The bank said the six-month figure was preliminary and it retained its full-year net profit forecast at 480 billion yen, down 7.4 percent from a year earlier and below an average estimate of 492.8 billion yen in a poll of 16 analysts by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
It is scheduled to announce full first-half results on Nov. 14, along with Japan's other top banks Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group. ($1 = 80.1650 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Edmund Klamann)