Westpac posts $3.5 billion profit

ONE of Australia's largest banks, Westpac, posted a $3.5 billion profit in the past six months, paying shareholders a special 10 cents a share dividend after the strong performance.

The bank's cash earnings were up 10% on the first half results of the 2012 year, and up 4% on the last half of last year.

It said the strong results were on the back of higher growth areas including deposits, wealth, trade finance and natural resources.

Of Westpac's divisions, Australian financial services was the strongest performer, up 16% during the 2012-13 fiscal year, primarily on the back of good performance at St George and BT Financial Group.

Lending rose $15 billion during the past half year, or 3%, primarily on the back of new Australian housing loans.