SINGAPORE: Singapore banks delivered second-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates, indicating they are well placed to weather mounting pressures from a global economic slowdown and falling interest rates.
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank Ltd posted surprise increases in net income for the three months ended June 30, results showed Friday. Larger rival DBS Group Holdings Ltd earlier this week saw profit climb more than projected.
The banks’ diversification into wealth management has underpinned earnings at a time when declining interest rates are likely to put pressure on loan profitability in the second half.
The outlook is also clouded by a weakening Singapore economy that’s vulnerable to the fallout from the US-China trade war, which escalated again overnight.
“The Singapore banks are relatively well-positioned to weather the macro uncertainties,” Krishna Guha, an analyst at Jefferies in Singapore, said on Bloomberg Television.
They have “multiple revenue drivers” such as wealth management and capital markets activities, and can take comfort from the likelihood that the latest monetary easing cycle won’t be prolonged, he said.
UOB and OCBC both posted increases in interest income, joining DBS in enjoying a boost from lending. The three firms also saw higher fees from wealth business.
Still, investors remained cautious. Shares of OCBC fell 1% at 9:57 a.m. local time, erasing almost all of this year’s gain. UOB advanced 0.4%.
DBS has slipped more than 1% since it posted results on Monday.
OCBC Chief Executive Officer Samuel Tsien said in a statement that he expects to “comfortably navigate” slowing growth in the bank’s key markets after it posted a 1% increase in profit.
At a news briefing, he said net interest margins are likely to keep rising in the third quarter before flattening later in the year.
UOB CEO Wee Ee Cheong touted his company’s ability to post record results against an “increasingly challenging macro environment.”
Earlier this week, DBS CEO Piyush Gupta signalled optimism that loan growth and margins would withstand lower rates and the slowing economy.