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Barclays optimistic over 2006 growth

Barclays, the UK's third largest bank, has said that it experienced "excellent" first quarter profits growth, and expects the trend to continue throughout 2006.

Although no figures were released, the bank said that there had been strong growth in its retail banking business, with a further boost in income coming from overseas investment banking and wealth management services.

Barclays added that it is fully expecting the strong performance to continue.

"Based on current trends and market conditions, Barclays expects full year 2006 income, impairment and expenses to be significantly ahead of the current market consensus, with the rate of income growth to be broadly in line with the rate of expense growth," the bank said in a statement.

Barclays is set to see significant international growth over the coming years, with its intention being to generate up to half its profits overseas by 2008.

Both investment banking and retail banking services are set for overseas expansion, with commercial banking networks already being set up in European countries such as Italy and Portugal, Bloomberg News reports.