Banco Santander's fourth-quarter profit jumps 70%
Banco Santander boss Ana Botin in September 2014. Reuters

Spain's Banco Santander has reported a near 70% jump in fourth-quarter profit from a year ago.

The Spanish lender reported a net profit of €1.46bn ($1.65bn, £1.1bn) for the three months to December 2014, as against a restated figure of €864m a year ago, and a tad below forecasts for a €1.47bn quarterly profit.

Quarterly profit at the eurozone's biggest bank was boosted by earnings from its lending business and fall in charges on bad loans.

Santander said in a statement: "Banco Santander made an attributable profit of€5.816bn [in 2014], a 39% increase over 2013. For the first time since the start of the global economic crisis, gross profit increased in the ten main markets where the Group operates.

"...Europe contributed 52% to the Group´s profits (United Kingdom 19% and Spain 14%), Latin America, 38% (Brazil 19% and Mexico 8%) and the United States,10%."

Santander added: "The improvement in earnings is a consequence of the increase in basic revenues of 3%, a decrease in costs of almost 1% and a drop of 14% in loan-loss provisions compared to those registered in 2013. This is in a context of business growth, both in loans and customer funds, a falling non-performing loan ratio, an increase in the coverage rate and an improvement in the solvency ratio.

"2014 results are set against a context of uneven slowdowns in Latin American economies, doubts about the eurozone´s recovery that led the ECB to cut interest rates to historic lows of 0.05%, and favourable growth expectations in the UK and the US, although interest rates for both the pound and the dollar continued at unprecedented low levels."

Santander's stock has lost some 15.17% in Madrid trade so far this year.

The October-December quarter was the first quarter under new boss Ana Botin, who recently shored up capital through a cash call.