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COPENHAGEN, April 28 (Reuters) - Denmark's Danske Bank posted forecast-beating profit for the first quarter, driven by increased activity in the financial markets and higher lending.
The bank, the second-biggest in the Nordic region, is seeking to expand in Norway and Sweden where it sees significant potential for growth, despite tough competition from peers like Sweden's Nordea and Norway's DNB.
"We continued to attract new customers, especially in Norway and Sweden, and we also saw a positive trend in the volume of business with existing customers. Overall, we had a good start to the year," Chief Executive Thomas Borgen said in a statement on Friday.
The company said lending grew 4 percent from the year-earlier period, especially driven by Norway and Sweden.
Pretax profit came in at 7.14 billion Danish crowns ($1.04 billion), an increase of almost 14 percent compared with the same period last year and well above expectations for 5.98 billion in a Reuters poll.
The bank maintained its outlook for a net profit of 17-19 billion crowns this year and for long-term return on equity of 12.5 percent. The return on equity was 14.4 percent in the quarter. ($1 = 6.8474 Danish crowns) (Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)