Macquarie H1 net up 18 pct; reiterates higher FY13 profit

SYDNEY, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Macquarie Group, Australia's top investment bank, reported an 18.4 percent rise in first-half net profit on Friday that missed expectations as weak markets hurt, but it reiterated full-year profits would top the year-ago figure.

Macquarie, which reported its lowest full-year net profit in eight years in April, said first half net was A$361 million ($374 million) compared with A$305 million a year ago and A$375 million expected by analysts.

Macquarie, which consistently beat estimates before the global financial crisis, is renewing its focus on stable businesses such as funds management to mitigate the cyclical nature of its advisory and trading units. These units have borne the brunt of weak markets that have pushed the bank to cut staff.

It said total employees fell to 13,463 from 14,202 in March. This follows a 9 percent cut in total employees for the year to March 2012. ($1 = 0.9649 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and John Mair)