MILAN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Italian state-owned bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) <BMPS.MI> on Wednesday posted a much larger-than-expected quarterly profit, as rising interest rates boosted revenues and job cuts lowered its costs.
MPS, which is 64% owned by the state, said it had increased its capital buffers by nearly one percentage point in the three months to December, including by reducing its risk-weighted assets (RWA).
Rival Intesa Sanpaolo last week also said it had slashed its RWA in the fourth quarter to boost capital and offset a revision in the internal models it uses to weigh asset risks.
MPS said its core capital stood at 15.6% of its RWA at the end of December, up from 14.7% in November after it completed a make-or-break 2.5 billion euro new share issue in tough markets.
Net income came in at 156 million euros ($167 million) in the October-December period, roughly twice the 75 million euros forecast by analysts polled by the bank.
Geared to benefit strongly from monetary policy tightening like other Italian banks, MPS said its net interest margin rose by almost a third in the fourth quarter from the previous three months and was up 54% from a year earlier.
($1 = 0.9317 euros)
Reporting by Valentina Za, editing by Gavin Jones