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STOCKHOLM, July 17 Nordea, the Nordic region's biggest bank by market value, said on Thursday it still aimed to raise its payout ratio for 2014 and 2015 as it reported second-quarter operating profit above expectations.
Operating profit for the period was 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion) compared with a mean forecast for 963 million seen in a Reuters poll of analysts and a year-ago 1.0 billion. The result excludes restructuring costs of 190 million euros.
"We have seen continued strong activity in our savings area and in the corporate advisory business," Chief Executive Christian Clausen said in a statement.
"However, interest rates continue to come down and the general level of economic activity as well as volatility is low. We expect a low-growth environment also going forward. Our cost efficiency programme is progressing as planned."
The bank said it would reduce costs by 5 percent by 2015 compared to 2013.
"The board's ambition to increase the payout ratio in 2014 and 2015 is reconfirmed," it said.
($1 = 0.7319 euros) (Reporting by Mia Shanley and Johan Ahlander)