Denmark\'s biggest lender Danske Bank took a 4 billion crown (Dh2.8 billion) hit from Irish bad debts in the first half of the year and said the country remained a challenge although its home market stabilised. Danske, which owns National Irish Bank in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Bank in Northern Ireland, reported consensus-beating second-quarter profits after higher than expected trading income and a 21 per cent fall in bad loans. The bank did not give a quarterly breakdown for bad loans, but said in the first six months of 2011 total loan impairment charges were 5.87 billion crowns, the majority stemming from Ireland while those related to Danish retail banking approached normal levels. \"The Group expects a decline in loan impairment charges from the 2010 level, although charges will remain high in Ireland and Northern Ireland,\" Danske said in a statement. Article continues below Second-quarter pretax profit rose to 2.08 billion Danish crowns from 1.74 billion a year earlier, exceeding an average estimate of 1.66 billion in a Reuters poll of analysts. Net interest income fell slightly to 5.79 billion crowns from 5.93 billion in the year-ago quarter, in line with forecasts, while net trading income for the quarter fell to 2.45 billion, beating a 1.73 billion average forecast by analysts. Strong income \"Ireland and Northern Ireland are clearly Danske Bank\'s problem right now,\" said Nykredit Markets analyst Mads Thinggard. \"It is strong trading income which again saves the result,\" he added. \"Interest income rose as expected, which I believe is very important. It puts Danske Bank in a good spot this quarter and amongst its Nordic peers.\" The bank did not give specific full-year financial guidance, but Chief Executive Peter Straarup said in a statement that banking activities still showed robust earnings. \"We have achieved positive results in all our markets, except the two Irish ones. The result of the Danish banking unit is particularly encouraging,\" Straarup said. Activity at the banking units and at Danske Capital is likely to remain stable, while the trend in earnings at the other capital markets units will depend on financial market trends,\" Danske Bank said. Shares in Danske Bank were down 1.1 per cent by 0823 GMT, holding up better than the Nordic banks\' index.