Spain's second-biggest bank by market value BBVA said on Wednesday its profits tripled in the third quarter despite falling over the first nine months of this year after exceptional gains in 2013.
Net profit for the July to September period surged to 601 million euros ($765 million) from 195 million euros a year earlier thanks to an increase in business, BBVA said in a statement.
Over the first nine months of this year, profits fell to 1.8 billion euros, 37 percent lower than a year earlier when its profits had been boosted by one-off "capital gains on the sale of non-strategic assets".
The bank said it saw a "nascent recovery" in demand for loans in Spain, which is timidly recovering from a financial crisis which drove its banking sector to seek a bailout.
This timid recovery "has not managed to turn around the average total balance" but the bank did get a boost from the growth of business in the United States, Turkey, Mexico and South America.
BBVA reduced the ratio of bad loan debts weighing on its balance sheet -- a hangover from the 2008 real estate collapse that plunged Spain into economic crisis -- to 6.1 percent in September.
The results came after two other big Spanish finance groups, Bankia and Caixabank, last week reported rising profits in an encouraging sign for the sector two years after it nearly collapsed.
Authorities said on Sunday that the 15 Spanish banks targeted by the European Central Bank's stability tests had taken the necessary steps to strengthen their capital base.