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ING beats forecasts as bad debts subside

DUTCH banking group ING beat all forecasts with first-quarter profit that benefited from rising financial markets and falling bad debt costs.

The company said its exposure to Greece rose in the first quarter while its Portuguese portfolio fell.

It added that it was comfortable with its position in sovereign debt.

Executives said the fluctuations were not political and more to do with normal market operations.

ING reported a profit of €1.33BN (£1.14bn), beating the €964m average forecast in a Reuters poll in which the high estimate was €1.19bn.

The outturn contrasted with 2009 when ING continually missed expectations, including a wider than forecast first-quarter net loss of €793m.

"Market conditions continued to improve, reducing the negative impacts that weighed on results for the past six quarters," ING said in a statement.