DUBLIN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Europe's largest paper packaging producer Smurfit Kappa said on Wednesday that its volumes increased in the fourth quarter, snapping three successive quarterly declines that led to a 12% drop in full-year core profit, as expected.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 2.08 billion euros ($2.24 billion) were broadly in line with the approximate 2.05 billion the group forecast in November. That was still its second-largest profit ever and sharply higher than 1.7 billion euro recorded in 2021.

The Irish group, which hopes to close an $11 billion deal to buy U.S. rival WestRock in early July and create the world's biggest paper and packaging group, said volumes were flat year-on-year in Europe and up by 1.6% in the Americas.

The growth overall in the fourth quarter compared to declines of minus 7%, minus 5% and minus 2% in the first, second and third quarters, respectively as customers destocked and demand for durable goods weakened.

CEO Tony Smurfit told CNBC on Wednesday that the trend of improving demand had continued in January and early February. ($1 = 0.9288 euros) (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)