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Standard Chartered profits up by quarter in January-September

Hong Kong, China | AFP | Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered on Wednesday said pre-tax profits rose 25 percent in the first nine months of the year, and warned it was keeping tabs on worsening China-US trade tensions.

The results come as the world’s top two economies have imposed a series of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s goods, fuelling fears of a shock to the global system.

“We remain alert to broader geopolitical uncertainties that have affected sentiment in some of our markets,” chief executive Bill Winters said in a statement.

Results for the first nine months of the year showed underlying pre-tax profits of $3.4 billion, while for July-September they were up 31 percent on-year at $1.07 billion.

The London-based bank said “escalating trade tension and other macroeconomic factors” had impacted equity markets and retail investor sentiment, slowing the rate of growth in wealth management.

A five percent drop in income growth from Africa and the Middle East also weighed on the results.

However, Winters said the bank was cautiously optimistic about global economic growth and the results reflected its focus on “improving profitability, balance sheet quality, conduct and financial returns”.

Standard Chartered has implemented wide-ranging restructuring and cutbacks since 2015.

Media reports earlier this month speculated it may announce further job losses as part of its third-quarter results statement.

None were announced Wednesday, but the firm did say it would set out new strategies to improve financial returns in the next three years when it posts its full-year results in February.

The bank swung back to profit in 2016, a year after scoring its first annual loss for more than a quarter of a century as it struggled to cope with the effect of bad debts and misconduct fines.

Winters replaced former CEO Peter Sands in 2015 after shareholder calls for a boardroom cull in response to profit warnings.

In August 2014, the bank was hit by US regulators with a $300 million fine and restrictions on its dollar-clearing business for failing to detect possible money-laundering.

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