But with earnings season for banks in Europe kicking off this week, the sector faces its first test does the newfound enthusiasm for the industry stack up to reality? So far, it does. As the first major European lender to report, Spanish heavyweight Banco Santander /quotes/zigman/205160/delayed ES:SAN -1.15% /quotes/zigman/188106/composite SAN -0.18% on Wednesday beat analyst expectations, with fourth-quarter profit coming in at 1.6 billion ($1.72 billion) compared with 25 million a year ago. The strong result came on the back of higher fees and stronger-than-expected lending income. business

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