The Canadian Press

Improved market conditions helped Equitable Group Inc.’s (TSX:ETC) third-quarter profit to rise by 11%, the specialty mortgage lender said Thursday.

For the July-September period, Equitable’s net income rose to $12 million or 81¢ a share from $10.8 million or 74¢ a share it generated last year.

“The economic and credit market landscapes have improved continuously over the second and third quarters of 2009,” said president and chief executive Andrew Moor.

In September, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported that the annual rate of housing starts increased to 150,400 units in August from 134,200 in July.

While earlier this week, the national housing agency declared that housing starts have started to recover and it expects the recovery to continue.

Equitable’s interest income shrank to $45.6 million from $60 million an increase from investments was more than offset by declines from mortgages and other sources of interest.

Return on equity, a key profitability measure, fell to 15.7% from 16.7% last year.

The company declared a dividend of 10¢, payable Jan. 4.