BNP Paribas has reported a 4.4% rise in net profit to €1.89bn (£1.6bn, $2bn) for the first quarter of 2017, compared to the first three months of the prior year.

According to the bank's quarterly earnings report released on Wednesday (May 3), the net income increase beat analyst expectations of €1.6bn in a Reuters poll.

The Corporate and Institutional Banking division in particular experienced an "excellent quarter" as pre-tax income increased by 93% to €778m compared to the first quarter of 2016.

A more favourable market environment and higher client volumes were attributed to the increase.

The French bank's 33.1% revenue increase in the Global Market division to €1.7bn far surpassed the average 4% increase reported by other European banks such as Deutsche Bank, Barclays and Credit Suisse, according to Reuters.

"With €1.9bn in net income, BNP Paribas delivered a very good performance this quarter," stated Chief Executive Officer Jean-Laurent Bonnafé.

"The revenues of the operating divisions were significantly higher thanks to good business growth. Costs were well under control and the cost of risk was down."

The Paris-based bank's cost of risk also significantly decreased by 21.8% to €592m compared to the first quarter of 2016. Improved risk control at the loan origination phase, an environment of low interest rates, and better corporate clients mainly in the Italian region have been attributed to the reduced risk.

A report by the International Monetary Fund released in April 2017 warned that a low interest rate environment could undermine the stability of European banks in the long run. Banks may be coerced to undertake riskier ventures in order to pursue better profit margins, it said.