NatWest enjoyed a doubling of profits in the last three months as it benefited from rising interest rates and improved economic conditions, the bank said.
Bosses revealed operating profits before tax of £1.2 billion for the first three months of 2022, compared to £573 million in the final three months of last year – beating analysts’ expectations of £755 million.
During the same period a year ago operating pre-tax profits were £894 million.
But chief executive Alison Rose said the rest of the year was set to be hard as customers and businesses got to grips with the cost-of-living crisis.
She said: “The world has changed considerably during the last three months.
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the invasion of Ukraine and we are doing all that we can to support them.
“We are also very aware of the challenges and concerns the cost-of-living crisis is causing for many of our customers up and down the country.
“NatWest Group is focused on providing practical help and support for the people, families and businesses we serve.”
The boss added the past three months had been a key time for the bank, as it finally saw the UK Government cede its majority control over the institution for the first time since the financial crisis.
Ministers sold down the taxpayers’ stake in the bank to 48% earlier this year.
NatWest revealed total income for the three months to the end of March hit £3 billion – up 16.8% – driven by strong growth in its mortgage division and favourable movements in the bond market.
Retail banking also improved as consumer spending levels recovered following the end of Covid restrictions, and there were higher levels of transactional banking fees.
Mortgages increased by 1.5% compared to the final three months of the year to £2.7 billion and customer deposits rose £800 million compared with the three months to end of December.
The bank also announced it would release £38 million of cash held back during the Covid crisis, although this compares to £98 million released previously out of £3.2 billion held back at the start of the pandemic.