LONDON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Barclays reported a surprise increase in its core capital ratio on Thursday, as the key measure of financial strength rose to 12.4 percent against analysts' expectations it would only climb to 11.8 percent.
Barclays said the capital boost came from increased profits as the lender nears the end of a major restructuring.
Barclays posted an adjusted pre-tax profit of 3.2 billion pounds ($3.98 billion), compared with 1.14 billion a year earlier. That was below the average forecast of 3.97 billion from analysts' estimates compiled by the bank.
The lender said it would close its non-core division that holds its assets earmarked for sale six months earlier than expected, in June.
Chief Executive Jes Staley said the result shows progress on a plan announced last March that will see Barclays shed unwanted assets including its African business in favour of a 'transatlantic' strategy focused on the U.S. and Britain.
"We are now just months away from completing the restructuring of Barclays, and I am more optimistic than ever for our prospects in 2017, and beyond," Staley said in the bank's statement. ($1 = 0.8043 pounds) (Reporting By Lawrence White and Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Rachel Armstrong)