(Bloomberg) -- Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd.’s full-year profit beat estimates as the lender wound back pandemic provisions and its customers shrugged off lengthy lockdowns in the country’s two most populous cities to help bolster an economic recovery.

Cash earnings from continuous operations rose to A$6.20 billion ($4.7 billion) in the 12 months through Sept. 30, compared with A$3.76 billion a year earlier, according to a statement Thursday. That topped the average analysts’ expectation for A$6.06 billion.

ANZ Bank is the first of the nation’s four biggest banks to give an investor update this results season. The bank, which announced a A$1.5 billion buyback in July, is topping up shareholders with a 72 cent a share dividend for the second half.

“We recognize the outlook remains somewhat uncertain and we have more than A$4 billion of credit reserves should conditions deteriorate,” Chief Executive Officer Shayne Elliott said in the statement. 

The lender’s shares are up 25% this year, compared with a 27% rise in a gauge of the country’s financial stocks over that period.

The number of loans provided rose 5% from a year ago but home lending volume in the second half of the year was hurt by stiff competition, customers’ decisions to pay down their loans faster, and delays in processing loans. Almost half of all retail sales in Australia, including home loans, are now being conducted through digital channels, up from 40% a year ago, ANZ Bank said in the statement.

In New Zealand, home loans grew about 11% as the bank processed a record 82,000 new accounts.

The bank released a net A$567 million in credit provisions, and said that its customers continued to manage well through the pandemic.

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