Bank of Nova Scotia main branch in Calgary, Alberta

Turbulent financial markets weighed on Scotiabank’s third-quarter results but the bank saw profits rise on higher interest income driven by continued loan growth.

On Tuesday the bank was the first of the Big Six to report financial results, showing net income of $2.59 billion for the quarter ending July 31, up from $2.54 billion in the same quarter last year, as its Canadian banking division reported 14% loan growth and its international banking division saw 12% loan growth.

The boost in lending came as corporate and consumer financial health showed continued strength, said chief executive Brian Porter on an analyst call Tuesday.

“The macroeconomic backdrop of our key geographies remains positive as economies begin to stabilize following a unique confluence of events. In Canada, we see the strength of the labour market as an important counterbalance to the impact of inflation on consumer confidence.”

The bank has, however, increased its provisions for credit loss by 8% to $412 million as central banks continue to raise rates in a delicate act of trying to tame inflation without driving economies into recession.

“We have taken appropriate action to ensure we are conservatively provisioned in light of a less certain economic outlook,” said Porter.

The small increase in overall loss provisions hide larger swings, as the provision for performing loans came in at $23 million, compared with a net reversal of $461 million last year, with the swing attributed to the less favourable macroecomic forecast. The provision on impaired loans was $389 million, compared with $841 million last year, driven by lower formations across most markets.

Economic uncertainty and higher borrowing rates have also pushed many homebuyers to the sidelines to cause Scotiabank’s mortgage lending growth to slow, up only 2% from the previous quarter.

The bank emphasized how strong consumer finances remain despite inflationary pressures, with average deposits still up 14% compared with pre-pandemic levels, and delinquency rates for retail at roughly half the pre-pandemic ratio.

Scotiabank said it is also expecting to drive more customers to the bank with its expanded Scene points reward program to which it has added grocery and pharmacy partners. The bank started rolling out the new program last week in Atlantic Canada and will continue to roll it out across the country in the coming months.

But while lending grew in the quarter, the bank’s global wealth management and global banking and markets divisions saw income drop — by 14% and 26% respectively — on lower underwriting activity as companies raised less money, while the bank also saw lower trading activity as investors pulled back in a declining market.

“Robust business lending activity was offset by an extremely quiet period for capital markets issuance, and challenging markets for trading,” said Porter.

The drop in activity for the two areas pushed Scotiabank’s results a little below analyst expectations as some had expected higher market volatility to boost trading.

The bank reported adjusted earnings of $2.10 per diluted share, up from $2.01 per diluted share a year ago, but below analyst expectations of $2.11 per share, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

Revenue of $7.80 billion, up from, $7.76 billion, was also below expectations of $8.1 billion.

“Due to weak financial markets, revenue from mutual fund, brokerage and wealth management declined during the period, as we expected,” said Edward Jones analyst James Shanahan in a note. “However, increased market volatility failed to drive strength in trading revenues, and underwriting activity remains poor.”

Bank earnings continue through the week with RBC and National Bank Wednesday, CIBC and TD Bank on Thursday, and Bank of Montreal on Aug. 30.