National Australia Bank enjoyed a 47 per cent increase in cash earnings during its first quarter trading, helped by improving economic and health outcomes in Australia and New Zealand.
However, presenting the bank’s first quarter trading update, chief executive Ross McEwan said there were still uncertainties, such as the impact of ongoing health alerts and measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
There are also concerns surrounding the end of mortgage deferrals and the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, which is due to end in March.
“Supporting customers and keeping the bank safe through this period remain our priorities,” Mr McEwan said.
As of December 31, Australian home loan deferrals declined to about $2 billion and business loan deferrals fell to $1 billion.
These balances compare with a peak of some $38b and $19b of business loans.
Mr McEwan said most customers exiting deferrals had resumed repayments, though a small cohort required further assistance.
On the bank’s operating performance, unaudited cash earnings were $1.65b, while the unaudited statutory net profit was $1.7b.
“At an underlying level, performance has been sound in the current competitive, low interest rate environment,” Mr McEwan said.