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SYDNEY, AAP – Bendigo Bank executives are confident an improving housing market and jobless rate will further help lending and deposits after a 1.9 per cent rise in first-half cash earnings.

Australia’s fifth-largest retail bank on Monday reported cash earnings after tax of $219.7 million, higher than the previous first half.

The interim dividend was a fully franked 23.5 cents per share, down from the previous fully franked interim payout of 31 cents per share.

A boom in borrowing helped the bank make its money. Its residential lending portfolio climbed 14 per cent during the period, based on annualised growth, was 3.6 times the industry average.

Bendigo’s total lending portfolio is up 8.6 per cent on its previous first half to $68.3 billion.

Home buyers have seized on low interest rates during the pandemic.

Other customers have been saving. Deposits climbed 8.5 per cent on the previous first half to $72.3 billion.

Bendigo’s net profit after tax rose 67.3 per cent to $243.9 million.

Chief executive Marnie Baker said she was buoyed by the outlook due to a growing housing market and improving jobs one.

In the long term, Ms Baker said she and her colleagues were mindful of the pandemic, international trade sentiment, decisions on government support and climate change impacts.

She said the bank would continue to target residential lending and more growth in small business and agribusiness, while reducing costs.

Moody’s Investors Service vice president Frank Mirenzi said significant growth in lending and strong cost management helped the first-half figures.

He said the improved economic outlook led to a much lower credit impairment charge of only six basis points of loans and advances.

Shares were up 10.22 per cent to $10.46 at 1345 AEDT.