May 8 (Reuters) - Australia's No.2 lender Westpac Banking Corp said first-half cash profit rose 3 percent benefiting from improved credit quality and robust performance in markets business.
Cash earnings climbed to A$4.017 billion ($2.98 billion) for the six months ended March 31 compared with A$3.904 billion a year ago.
That was in line with a A$4.02 billion estimate of four analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Australia's oldest bank declared an interim fully franked dividend of A$0.94 per share, unchanged from A$0.94 a year ago.
The outlook for Australian banks, which are highly reliant on mortgage loans, has dimmed after the country's prudential regulator announced on March 31 new limits on some types of lending in an attempt to cool the red-hot housing market. ($1 = 1.3492 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler)