Nila Sweeney

The majors have had their first full-year increase in net interest margins since 1995, ending the slide in profit driven by non-bank mortgage providers stealing market share.

Analysis by PWC of the 2009 results from the Big Four shows the banks average net interest margin (NIM) - the spread between banks' cost of money and what they lend it at - rose from 2.07% last year to 2.22% this, according to a report in The Australian.

NIM's are a core measure of banks' profitability, and their rise over the year has fuelled demand on the federal government by consumer groups that it find ways to stimulate competition.

In the early 1990's banks enjoyed NIM's of between 3.5% and 4%.

Westpac has predicted its NIM would remain flat in 2010, while ANZ predicted a continued rise in its.

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