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LONDON: British bank Barclays said Wednesday that interim net profits surged more than five-fold on lower-than-expected credit losses linked to the Covid pandemic.

Profit after taxation soared to £3.8 billion ($5.3 billion, 4.5 billion euros) in the six months to the end of June, compared with £695 million for the same period of 2020, Barclays said in a results statement.

The lender's performance was boosted after it released credit loss provisions of £700 million, citing signs of global recovery after England's economy fully reopened. That compared with a vast impairment charge of £3.7 billion, made last time around to deal with anticipated Covid fallout.

The move was "driven by an improved macroeconomic outlook, lower unsecured lending balances and a benign credit environment", the financial giant said. Pre-tax profit almost quadrupled to £5.0 billion, but revenues slipped 3.0 percent to £11.3 billion.

The lender will pay an interim dividend of 2.0 pence per share and also outlined plans for a £500-million share buyback.

"Barclays has had a strong first half of the year," said chief executive Jes Staley in comments accompanying the earnings.

"We are ... seeing signs that the global economy is recovering. That is reflected in our first half performance.

"We have reported robust revenues and profitability and I am optimistic about our prospects to grow our business further."

Staley added Barclays was "starting to see the resurgence of activity across our businesses, with group income up on the same period last year when excluding the impact of foreign exchange movements".

The bank however remained cautious over the outlook amid ongoing global fears over the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus.

"Whilst the macroeconomic environment has improved, the outlook remains uncertain and subject to change depending on the evolution and persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic," the group added.

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