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MADRID, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Spain's Banco Popular on Friday said net profit rose nearly 2 percent to 231 million euros ($290 million) in the first nine months of the year, beating forecasts, as net lending income fell less than expected compared to 2013.
The bank, Spain's fifth biggest by market value, said net lending income, or earnings on loans minus deposit costs, had fallen 3.8 percent to 1.76 billion euros in the year to September.
Like most peers, the bank has recovered from a deep financial crisis and soured debts are falling as Spain's economy improves, though net lending to clients is still shrinking. (1 US dollar = 0.7966 euro) (Reporting by Sarah White; Editing by Sonya Dowsett)