July 31, 2020 / 5:38 AM / 3 days ago

UPDATE 3-BNP Paribas beats profit forecasts on thriving investment bank

* Shares rise 5% after Q2 results

* Fixed income, currencies, commodities trading revenue up 153.8%

* Corporate finance also performs well

* Equities trading continues to struggle

* Lockdowns hit retail banking but rebound in June

* (Adds details, background)

By Maya Nikolaeva

PARIS, July 31 (Reuters) - The euro zone's biggest bank, BNP Paribas, beat second quarter profit expectations on Friday, boosted by a surge in fixed income trading and strong demand for corporate finance.

The lender confirmed its guidance for 2020 net income to decline by between 15 and 20% and said it factored in a gradual economic recovery with gross domestic product returning to levels comparable to 2019 by mid-2022, unless a new crisis occurs.

Its relatively solid performance during the coronavirus crisis could help boost the French lender's ambitions of becoming Europe's dominant investment bank, while taking advantage of internal restructurings at some rivals.

Shares in BNP Paribas were up 5.1% at 0735 GMT, the biggest gainer on Paris's CAC40 index, although they were still down 40% since the start of the year.

The bank said second-quarter revenue at its corporate and institutional bank rose by 33.1%, as fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC) trading revenue surged by 153.8%.

Fixed-income trading revenue at European peers such as Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse increased at rates in the range of 39% to 60% during the period.

As companies around the world rushed to secure financing, BNP Paribas said it had raised over 160 billion euros ($190 billion) for its clients in the second quarter in the global syndicated loan, bond and equity markets, up 91% compared to a year earlier.

"BNP Paribas was able to quickly mobilise its teams, resources and expertise to meet the needs of its clients across Europe and beyond," Chief Executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafe said in a statement.

Equities trading continued to struggle in the second quarter after revenue was wiped out in the first three months of the year due to cancellations of dividends by companies. Equity trading revenue was down 52.8% in the quarter.

The investment bank results provided some comfort during a spike in provisions against loans that may sour due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Cost of risk, which reflects the amount of new provisions aimed at covering potential payment defaults, rose by 0.8 billion euros to 1.4 billion euros in the second quarter year-on-year, below expectations.

Lockdowns across various countries took a toll on retail banking revenue, but the rebound in June in Europe was stronger than expected, the bank said.

BNP Paribas said its net income fell by 6.8% in the second quarter year-on-year to 2.3 billion euros ($2.74 billion), compared to an average estimate of 1.5 billion euros in a Reuters poll of five analysts.

Revenue rose by 4% to 11.7 billion euros, versus an 11.0 billion euros estimate in the poll.

"We expect BNPP to outperform in this volatile environment thanks to its cost and origination discipline," Jean Pierre Lambert, an analyst at KBW said in a note.

BNP also set a high bar for its French peers, Societe Generale, Natixis and Credit Agricole , which report results next week.

$1 = 0.8405 euros Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Additional reporing by Piotr Lipinski in Gdansk and Blandine Henault in Paris; Editing by Sarah White/Stephen Coates/Susan Fenton

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