* Q1 diluted EPS C$0.54 vs C$0.52 yr-ago
* Beats expectations for C$0.51 EPS
TORONTO, March 2 (Reuters) - Canadian Western Bank (CWB.TO) reported a stronger-than-expected 10 percent rise in its first-quarter profit on Wednesday, helped by loan growth and higher interest income.
Canada's No. 7 bank earned C$44 million ($45.4 million), or 54 Canadian cents a share, in the quarter ended Jan. 31. That compared with a profit of C$40 million, or 52 Canadian cents a share a year earlier.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected, on average, a profit of 51 Canadian cents a share.
Net interest income rose 26 percent to C$90.7 million.
$1=$0.97 Canadian Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Carol Bishopric