SYDNEY, AAP – Westpac claimed first-quarter cash earnings were up 54 per cent and boss Peter King says there had been a significant increase in home loan applications.
The bank on Wednesday said cash earnings were $1.97 billion, which was better than the quarterly average of its second half last financial year, $808 million.
Westpac says this comparison is better than comparing with the first quarter of last financial year, which was before the pandemic.
The claim of a 54 per cent cash earnings increase does not include money set aside for non-recurring payments, such as the $1.3 billion fine for major breaches of money laundering and terror financing laws.
Mr King said the bank had a good start to the year, with higher earnings and a stronger economy.
“We are also beginning to improve momentum in mortgages and while the book was little changed over the half, we have processed a significant increase in applications,” he said.
He said low rates, rising housing prices, consumer confidence and construction activity indicated increased home lending this year.
He remained hopeful that customers would resume paying $11 billion in home loans that had deferred repayments due to COVID-19.
Westpac said this amount was expected to fall in February and March.
Banks including Westpac last year allowed customers who had lost work or income from the pandemic to pause loan repayments.
Investors liked the bank’s progress and raised the share price by 5.11 per cent to $23.66 at 1139 AEDT.