* Q3 net profit at S$1.81 bln vs S$1.80 bln estimate

* Net interest margin at 2.27% in Q3 vs 2.06% a year earlier

* ROE rose to 14% in Q3 versus 11.9% a year earlier

* OCBC's wealth management AUM climbed 8% on-year to S$270 bln

(Adds CFO's comment from briefing in paragraph 2 and 3, CEO's comment in paragraph 6 to 8, analyst's comment in last paragraph)

SINGAPORE, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Singapore's second-largest bank Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) raised its targeted 2023 net interest margin, a key profitability gauge, after posting on Friday a better-than-expected 21% jump in third-quarter net profit.

OCBC Group Group Chief Financial Officer Goh Chin Yee projected 2023 net interest margin at 2.25% "barring no further deterioration in macro environment" driven by wars.

Net interest margin was 2.28% in the first nine months of this year, she said in a briefing following the earnings announcement. The bank earlier expected net interest margin at 2.2% for 2023.

OCBC, which is also Southeast Asia's second-largest lender by assets, sees 2023 return on equity above 14%, according to its Group Chief Executive Helen Wong in the briefing.

But loan growth in the low single-digit range, reflecting market conditions, versus earlier projections of low-to-mid single-digit loan growth.

Geopolitical tension continued to weigh on macroeconomic conditions and "also on demand of loans in a way so we do see loan demand to be quite muted," Wong said.

Nevertheless, Wong said measures to drive economic growth in China had started to see some momentum, while OCBC did not have any exposure to the conflict in the Middle East.

OCBC only had "insignificant" exposure to a recent suspected

money laundering

case in Singapore, she added.

OCBC, which counts Singapore, greater China and Malaysia among its key markets, said its July-September net profit rose to S$1.81 billion ($1.33 billion) from S$1.49 billion a year earlier, underpinned by higher net interest income.

This beat the mean estimate of S$1.80 billion from four analysts polled by LSEG.

The quarterly results from OCBC rounded up a relatively positive third quarter earnings season by Singapore banks despite global macroeconomic challenges.

Larger peer DBS Group reported on Monday a stronger than expected third-quarter net profit on the back of higher interest rates, which it forecast will also help keep its profit steady next year.

United Overseas Bank also expected stronger 2024 outlook despite posting a slightly weaker-than-expected third quarter earnings.

Singapore banks have benefited from higher global interest rates and strong inflows of wealth drawn in by the city-state's political stability.

But global economic uncertainty could weigh on Singapore's economic prospects. The country's central bank kept monetary policy settings unchanged in April and October.

"Given that downside risks to global economic conditions persist, rising asset quality risks will remain a key theme to watch in 2024, where we could see banks having to set aside more allowances to prepare for tougher times at the expense of profits," said Yeap Jun Rong, market analyst at IG Asia.

($1 = 1.3604 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Yantoultra Ngui; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Stephen Coates)