Big banks’ earnings to increase 14 per cent

Merrill Lynch has forecast a 14 per cent increase in earnings growth per share for the nation's largest banks despite concerns that their results for the year would be impacted by the higher cost of funding. Profit increases to be reported over the next few weeks are expected to be ANZ by 10 per cent, and St George, Westpac and National Australia Bank all up by 13 per cent. While interest margins may be slightly reduced this has been more than offset by an 18.8 per cent increase in business lending and a 13 per cent increase in home loans.