Standard Chartered upbeat after Asian market boost

STANDARD Chartered said it was on track for a strong first-half performance as its key Asian markets fared better than the west and it grabbed market share.

However, it admitted that recent economic turbulence had hurt business.

The bank said in a trading update Monday that increased economic uncertainty had resulted in a weakening in client demand for some products in its key wholesale banking arm in recent weeks and created a subdued trading environment.

The bank, based in London but deriving over four-fifths of its profits from Asia, said its income and profit in the first five months of the year were ahead of the comparable period of 2009, stripping out a gain last year on the buyback of debt.

Standard Chartered said in May it had enjoyed a record first quarter and its trading update – one of the first signals from a bank on first-half performance – said it had continued to do well, but did not report any figures.

Growth at the bank, whose history of financing trade between Europe, Asia and Africa dates back to 1853, has been driven in recent years by its wholesale arm, which includes investment banking services and last year accounted for near 85 per cent of group earnings.

It said it is winning market share and continued to invest, hiring 450 staff in wholesale banking.

Wholesale banking income in the first half was expected to be similar to the strong first half of last year, and up over ten per cent on 2009's second half.