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Singapore bank OCBC posts record Q1 profit

CNA – Singapore’s second-biggest lender Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) joined bigger rival DBS Group in flagging a peak in interest rates after reporting record quarterly profit yesterday thanks to higher net interest margins.

OCBC Group Chief Executive Officer Helen Wong said the bank believed interest rates had peaked and “will go stable”.

“We’re looking at assumption that we do not see interest rate reduction the rest of the year,” she told reporters.

OCBC’s January-March net profit rose 39 per cent to SGD1.88 billion (USD1.4 billion), beating the mean estimate of SGD1.74 billion from five analysts polled by Refinitiv.

Its total net interest margin, a key gauge of profitability, rose to 2.30 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) from 1.55 per cent in the same period a year earlier, but was down from 2.31 per cent in the fourth quarter.

OCBC, Southeast Asia’s second-biggest bank by assets, forecast full-year net interest margin would edge up to 2.2 per cent from a previous guidance of 2.1 per cent.

Singapore’s banks have been benefitting from strong inflows from wealthy customers amid global economic uncertainty because of the city-state’s status as financial safe haven.