Spain's Santander has today forecast an improvement of core profits for 2020, citing better customer behaviour in expired loan payments and more cost savings in Europe after it swung back to the black in the third quarter. 

Santander's statutory net profit trebled in the third quarter compared to a year ago.

But on underlying terms, the bank's profit fell 18% in the same period to €1.75 billion due to more coronavirus related provisions. 

Analysts polled by Reuters expected an operating profit of €1.06 billion. 

Banks across Europe are struggling to cope with record low interest rates and the economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is forcing lenders to focus on further cutting costs. 

Higher efficiency gains and better customer behaviour however led the bank to forecast an underlying profit of around €5 billion for this year. 

"The recovery of our business is progressing well, and the third quarter was significantly stronger than the second. Revenues increased 18% in constant euros as activity returned close to pre-pandemic levels," the bank's executive chairman Ana Botin said in a statement. 

In the second quarter, the euro zone's third-biggest lender in terms of market value had reported a record net loss of €11.1 billion on Covid-19 related writedowns.