(Corrects to add dropped word in the seventh paragraph)
Feb 18 (Reuters) - Australia and New Zealand Banking Group on Thursday reported a higher first-quarter profit and said it was well-positioned for the rest of the year, boosted by growth in home lending as the domestic economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lenders across the world are still struggling with lower interest rates aimed at supporting economies during the pandemic. They were also forced to set aside billions of dollars to cover potential loan defaults.
Australian banks are however now enjoying a relative period of calm as cheaper borrowing costs and strong government stimulus have led to a surge in demand for homes and driven loan volumes higher.
“All our major businesses performed well through the quarter with market share gains in our key home loan market in Australia as well as record home loan volumes in New Zealand,” Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott said in a statement.
The Melbourne-based lender added that about 84% of deferred home loans in Australia have been rolled off, of which 98% returned to repayments.
Australia’s fourth-largest bank said cash profit from continuing operations for the three months ended Dec. 31 came in at A$1.81 billion ($1.40 billion), up 54% from the average of the last two quarters.
The bank did not provide a comparable figure for the same quarter of the previous year.
The bank’s common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio, a closely watched measure of its spare cash, rose to 11.7% at Dec. 31 from 11.3% as at Sept 30, 2020. ($1 = 1.2902 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)