March 1, 2012 / 9:42 PM / 5 years ago

National Bank of Canada profit tops estimates

(Follows brief)

TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - National Bank of Canada's quarterly profit rose 3.1 percent, topping analyst estimates, as the lender benefited from stronger retail banking and financial markets earnings.

National, Canada's sixth-largest bank, said on Thursday it earned C$332 million ($337 million), or C$1.99 a share, in the first quarter, ended Jan. 31. That compared with a profit of C$322 million, or C$1.86 a share, in the year-before period.

Excluding items, it earned C$2.00 a share, easily beating analyst expectations of a profit of C$1.82 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Retail banking income rose 9 percent, while financial markets profit gained 13 percent. This offset a 21 percent profit slide in the smaller wealth management segment.

National was the third Canadian bank to report stronger than expected earnings on Thursday, following the lead of larger rivals Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank .

$1=$0.99 Canadian Reporting By Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson

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