NatWest swings to profit as pandemic loan charges fall

LONDON, Oct 30 (Reuters) - British lender NatWest reported forecast-beating third quarter earnings on Friday, after setting aside a smaller cash pile in the period to deal with likely loan defaults due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The bank posted a 355 million pound ($462.67 million) pre-tax profit for the July-September period, compared to a 75 million pound loss in an average of analyst forecasts.

NatWest booked a further 254 million pounds provision for expected bad loans, compared to the 628 million pounds forecast. The bank said provisions for the year would be at the lower end of a 3.5-4.5 billion pound range previously given.

Rivals Lloyds, HSBC and Barclays also set aside smaller provisions in their third quarter earnings compared to earlier in the year, as government financial support measures delay some economic pain to next year.

NatWest remains 62% owned by taxpayers following its bailout in the 2008-09 financial crisis. ($1 = 0.7673 pounds) (Reporting by Iain Withers and Lawrence White, editing by Rachel Armstrong)