French bank Credit Agricole reports a near fourfold increase in first-quarter profit and Italy's UniCredit also beats expectations with a jump in earnings. Silvia Antonioli reports.
Southern Europe's banks unveiling bright results. UniCredit and Credit Agricole both beat market expectations comfortably with strong growth in their first-quarter earnings. Also thanks to improved conditions for the wider European banking sector. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FIDELITY INTERNATIONAL, INVESTMENT DIRECTOR, TOM STEVENSON, SAYING: "We're seeing an improvement in the interest rate environment. I think the trading environment particularly in fixed income is better than it was and banks across Europe are also seeing a reduction in bad loans." Unicredit's bottom line was lifted by a sharp increase in trading income. The numbers proved a turnaround plan led by new boss Jean Pierre Mustier is bearing fruit and lifted the italian banking index to a 1-year-high. French rival Credit Agricole also shining. The country's second-largest lender achieved a four fold increase in profits. thanks to growth in loans, currency and bond trading. But after jumping to a multi-year high shares erased gains. Maybe a sign many still see the recovery as too fragile to bet on.