Adds CEO comment, details of results
HELSINKI, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Nordea Bank NDAFI.HE reported on Friday a better-than-expected rise in third-quarter operating profit, as the Nordic region's biggest lender said its income growth was driven by increased levels of customer activity.
Third-quarter operating profit rose to 1.09 billion euros ($1.29 billion) from a loss of 421 million a year ago, beating the mean forecast of 966 million profit seen by analysts according to Refinitiv data.
"Although uncertainty remains, the risk of a renewed severe downturn has decreased," Nordea Chief Executive Frank Vang-Jensen said in a statement.
Loan losses, a figure closely watched due to a slump in the pandemic-hit wider economy, were just 2 million euros, much better than a year-ago 331 million and much lower than the 76 million loss expected by analysts.
Net interest income, which includes income from mortgages, rose 6% to 1.14 billion euros from 1.08 billion a year ago, beating a Refinitiv estimate of 1.11 billion and reaching its highest growth rate since 2012, the bank said.
($1 = 0.8477 euros)
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen in Helsinki and Colm Fulton in Stockholm; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)