Singapore Banks Showing Significant Improvement: S&P Global Ratings

Singapore Banks Showing Significant Improvement: S&P Global Ratings

Singaporean banks are leading their south and southeast Asian peers in the recovery from Covid-19, S&P Global Ratings. (Mike Enerio/Unsplash)

SINGAPORE — Singaporean banks are leading their south and southeast Asian peers in the recovery from Covid-19, S&P Global Ratings said on Aug. 5.

The strong second-quarter results of Singapore’s big three banks show the country’s banking sector is on track for significantly improved earnings, a brightening business outlook, and normalizing credit costs, as per the rating agency.

“Singapore banks are clear beneficiaries of strong macroeconomic tailwinds. They are benefiting from the economic rebound in the United States and China in particular,” said Rujun Duan, S&P Global rating credit analyst.

“Resurging working capital and investment demand from corporate clients, a vigorous mergers and acquisitions market, and a resilient consumer sector in Greater China and Singapore put them in a sweet spot for more lending opportunities.”

Effective pandemic containment and high vaccination coverage in Greater China and Singapore are reducing downside credit risks in those markets. The regions account for about three-quarters of Singapore banks’ loan books.

Singapore banks’ diversified business profile is also helping this rebound. The institutions’ non-interest income, such as fees and commissions, are rising sharply. The banks’ wealth management arms and loan-related fees are mainly driving this outperformance. Customer trading gains are also multiplying.

The country’s three biggest lenders — DBS Bank LtdOversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd, and United Overseas Bank Ltd — reflect this brightened growth outlook. DBS reported a 54 percent increase (year on year) in net profit in the first half of 2021.

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Limited disclosed an 86 percent increase in this measure in the same period while United Overseas Bank Ltd’s net income grew 29 percent.

“Momentum for the full half-year has been extraordinarily strong, with the second quarter currently as strong as the first quarter,” said Piyush Gupta, CEO, Development Bank of Singapore.

“Loan growth at 3 percent in each quarter was actually far more than what we anticipated, and the good news is that it was diversified.”

Singapore banks’ exposure to Greater China and Singapore is also bolstering their asset quality. The institutions are making a smooth transition away from debt moratoriums offered to pandemic-hit borrowers in those two markets, as Covid-19 caseloads are well contained.

Moratorium-supported debt accounts for just low single digits of Singapore banks’ balance sheets.

S&P said Singapore banks will still need to navigate asset quality pressures over 12 to 18 months.

The institutions’ loan books are 10 to 25 percent allocated to neighboring markets in Southeast Asia, which are struggling to contain waves of Covid-19 infections.

Low vaccination rates in those markets have led to repeated lockdowns, reduced near-term economic prospects, and a persistent need for loan repayment moratoriums.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Praveen Pramod Tewari

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Jurassic Purrr-k: New Saber-Toothed Tiger Jaw Discovery Shows How Giant Cat Spread Across Asia 

Jurassic Purrr-k: New Saber-Toothed Tiger Jaw Discovery Shows How Giant Cat Spread Across Asia 

Sabertooth tiger jaws found at the mountain village of Guanghe County, Linxia Basin, in Gansu. (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology/Zenger)

For the first time, archaeologists have discovered part of a fossil of a saber-toothed tiger in China. The find is helping to explain the big cat’s migration worldwide.

Details were published in the international paleontology journal Historical Biology. The discovery concerned a section of the jaw, described as the “mandibular horizontal branch with buccal teeth.”

The saber-toothed tiger subfamily (Machairodontinae) is famous for its dagger-shaped upper canine teeth. It was regarded as an apex predator. Popular culture has sustained interested in the tigers in films such as “Ice Age.”

There were many types of saber-toothed tiger, but scientists believe the jawbone found in China is most likely from the European saber-toothed tiger.

It is believed to have entered North America in the late Miocene Epoch, between 13 million and 5 million years ago. Most of the animals were roughly the same size as modern tigers. During this period, species developed new forms, as large predatory mammals and birds, or small quick birds and rodents.

The fossils found in the Linxia Basin in Linxia, in the People’s Republic of China, are now being factored in as a key migration route for the sabertooth tigers’ ancestors that dominated the landscape in North America. The Chinese specimen is believed to be more primitive than its later relatives.

The migration of the saber-toothed tiger from Europe and Asia to North America. (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology/Zenger)

“It can be speculated that the saber-toothed tiger travels east from Europe, first arrives at Turkey, and then crossed into Central Asia. The most likely route is to enter China after passing through Iran, and then head to North America,” said Sun Boyang, an assistant researcher at the Institute of Paleospine at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The saber-toothed tiger is believed to have migrated to North America via the Bering land bridge.

The research was conducted by the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Paleontology Research Center of Yuxi Normal University, Gansu Hezheng Paleontological Fossil Museum, Yunnan University and other researchers.

In a statement, they said: “The material is a section of the mandibular horizontal branch with buccal teeth, which has obvious original features, such as relatively vertical mandibular joint side profile, relatively large size of the lower premolar, and the subfissure tooth has a more developed lower heel remnant, consistent with the hidden saber-toothed tiger (Machairodus aphanistus) distributed in Europe.

Previously, most of the late Miocene sabertooth tiger materials reported in China were Machairodus palanderi and Machairodus horribilis.

Edited by Fern Siegel and Judith Isacoff

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