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POLITICAL ECONOMY
Standard Chartered sees single-digit growth in first half
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) June 26, 2013


US Treasury official in China
Washington (AFP) June 26, 2013 - The US Treasury's top official for international affairs will visit China Wednesday for talks and to prepare for the two countries' annual strategic dialogue, the Treasury announced.

Lael Brainard, Under Secretary for International Affairs, will be in Beijing Wednesday and Thursday to meet top economic officials "as part of the administration's continuing bilateral engagement on economic issues of importance," the Treasury said in a statement.

The talks will also prepare the ground for the fifth annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, high-level meetings between senior officials of the two superpowers, to be held in Washington during the week of July 8.

Standard Chartered on Wednesday said it expects to see a net profit growth of "mid-single digit rate" for the first half of 2013 compared to the same period last year, helped by strong client activity and volume growth.

The London-based, Asia-focused lender said it expects income to grow double-digits in markets such as Hong Kong, Africa, while they expect income in South Korea and Singapore to remain weak.

"This is a good performance against a backdrop of ongoing turbulence in the global economy," chief executive Peter Sands said in a pre-close trading update filed to the Hong Kong stock exchange where it is listed.

"Growth has remained resilient across our footprint markets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East with high levels of client activity," Sands said, adding that the group's performance in the second quarter was an "acceleration" compared to the first.

The group remains upbeat for the outlook for the rest of the year.

But operating profit for consumer banking fell "by a low double digit percentage" compared to the same period last year due to an increase in loan impairment.

The bank also said it is "comfortable" with analyst forecasts for around $8 billion in operating profit for the year, from $6.88 billion in 2012.

The British lender said in March its net profit was flat at US$4.79 billion for 2012, compared to 4.75 billion in 2011, after it was hit by huge fines for violating US sanctions on Iran and other countries.

The settlements "dented our profit growth and damaged our reputation", Sands said in a statement at the time.

US authorities said the bank had stripped messages on financial transfers routed through US banks of information that would show the beneficiaries were businesses and entities that fell under American sanctions.

Standard Chartered agreed to pay US authorities the huge fines last year to settle charges it violated American sanctions, principally on Iran but also on Myanmar, Libya and Sudan.

-- DowJones Newswires contributed to this story --

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