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Swedbank beats its profit goal thanks to more interest income and raises its dividend.

(Reuters) – STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -On Tuesday, the Swedish bank Swedbank said that its net profit for the fourth quarter went up more than expected and proposed raising its annual dividend. This was because rising interest rates from the central bank helped boost interest income.

The bank has its roots in Sweden’s two-hundred-year-old savings bank movement. It reported a net profit of 6.81 billion Swedish crowns ($653 million) for the quarter, up from 4.84 billion crowns a year ago and higher than the average estimate of 6.26 billion crowns from a Refinitiv poll.

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Swedbank and its Nordic counterparts have had a year of rapid rate hikes by central banks, which were meant to bring red-hot inflation back under control. This has increased their interest income, but the pressure on households and businesses has only slowly started to show up as rising credit loss provisions.

“Credit impairments went up a little bit because the macroeconomic outlook is getting worse,” said Chief Executive Jens Henriksson in a statement. “However, credit quality is good, and our liquidity position is strong.”

“Swedbank is strong in this time of trouble.”

The largest mortgage lender in Sweden said that its net interest income, which includes income from mortgages, went up from 6.75 billion crowns a year ago to 10.92 billion crowns. Analysts had thought that the amount would be 9.31 billion crowns less.

Swedbank, which competes with banks like Handelsbanken and Nordea, wants to raise its annual dividend to shareholders from 9.25 crowns per share to 9.75 crowns per share. This is just below the 10 crowns per share that analysts expected.

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The commission income went down from 3.67 billion crowns a year ago to 3.45 billion crowns, which was less than the 3.69 billion crowns that analysts had expected.

From 265 million crowns, the bank’s income from financial items, such as trading, went up to 763 million crowns.

Also, Swedbank had credit impairments of 679 million crowns in the quarter, compared to reversals of 67 million crowns a year earlier. This was slightly worse than the Refinitiv Smart estimate of a 519-million-crown impairment.

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