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Financial Services Roundup: Market Talk

23 Jan 2018 9:20 am

The latest Market Talks covering Financial Services. Exclusively on Dow Jones Newswires at 4:20 ET, 12:20 ET and 16:50 ET.

0841 GMT - Intesa Sanpaolo CEO Carlo Messina reckons Italy is emerging from debt and banking-sector troubles and moving toward being a "normal country" in the eurozone. "Systemic risk is completely off the table in Italy now," he told CNBC on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He said his bank's approach reflected this view. "We want to be a leader in Europe," he said. (jessica.fleetham@wsj.com)

0827 GMT - Axis shares rebound further following the latest results form India's No. 3 private-sector lender. Gross nonperforming assets slumped to 5.28% from 5.9% in F2Q, and with its strong retail franchise and improving low-cost deposit base Axis should show big profit growth the next 2 years. But broker Prabhudas Lilladher is cautious on a valuation basis. Shares are up 1.4% today and at fresh 16-month highs. They're up 10% this month. (debiprasad.nayak@wsj.com)

0819 GMT - Hong Kong stocks powered into the close, with the Hang Seng finishing at session and all-time highs in rising 1.7% to 32930.70. As the market posted the strongest gains today amid a broad regional rally, the H-share index bounced 2.2% to a fresh 2 1/2-year high as it rose for an 18th-straight day. Financials took the lead again today, with major Chinese banks ICBC and Bank of China rising more than 3% while China Construction and Bank of Communications topped 4%. Meanwhile, index heavyweight Tencent extended its record push with a 3.2% gain. And Geely rebounded 5.9% amid recent stock buying by its chairman. (chester.yung@wsj.com;@chester_yung)

Large caps continued to lead in China, with the country joining in the regional stock gains seen today. The Shanghai Composite jumped another 1.3% to finish at its best levels since the end of 2015. Big banks China Construction, ICBC and Agricultural Bank all hit record highs along with insurer Ping An. Smaller peer Wujiang RCB logged a limit-up gain, along with a handful of property names. CICC says investors are keen to increase their equity exposure and banks are seen as a proxy for China's macro economy with reasonable valuations. Shenzhen lagged again following yesterday's jump. (john.wu@wsj.com)

0706 GMT - The Kospi sets a 2-month closing high and moves back within 1% of November's record as the South Korean stock index logs some of the best gains in the region thanks to a surge in financials. The Kospi climbed 1.4% to 2536.60 as the securities sector surged jumped 6.2% to a 2 1/2-year high. Meanwhile, banks climbed 3%. Also helping was Samsung rebounding 1.9%. (minsun.lee@wsj.com)

0529 GMT - Australia's stock benchmark logged its biggest gain in nearly 3 weeks to end a 5-day losing streak amid noted advances today in multiple regional markets. The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8% to 6037 with the major banks rebounding; Westpac and ANZ climbed more than 1%. Energy stocks were also up while ResMed jumped 8.4% following its F2Q report. (robb.stewart@wsj.com; @RobbMStewart)

0323 GMT - As many expect Malaysia to start raising interest rates soon, perhaps as soon as Thursday, CIMB says each quarter-point increase should boost local banks' earnings by 4%. The broker says Alliance Bank could be the biggest beneficiary, with AMMB poised to get the least lift. (yantoultra.ngui@wsj.com; @yantoultra)

0330 GMT - The cost for Hong Kong banks to borrow yuan from each other overnight has been broadly rising since December. Overnight CNH Hibor was fixed at 3.23% Tuesday, the highest since Nov. 22. Nomura says it's too early for any potential cash crunch tied to Lunar New Year to have an impact on interbank rates. It thinks the move likely indicates "some repatriation of offshore CNH has happened." (saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com; @saumvaish)

0314 GMT - While Daiwa says ZhongAn's 2017 total premiums were slightly below estimates due to increased competition from traditional insurers and fellow internet players, the rapid growth in auto insurance should lead to better profitability. Driven by health, credit and auto-insurance lines, Daiwa expects ZhongAn's premium to grow at a compound annual rate of 64% from 2017-20. Shares rise 0.5% to HK$73.45, and Daiwa's target rises 8% to HK$70. (john.wu@wsj.com)

0233 GMT - Among a sea of Chinese issuers, investors will get some diversification opportunities in coming weeks as 3 Indian lenders are planning to issue dollar bonds. Yes Bank starts marketing its bonds today in a series of meetings with investors in Singapore, Hong Kong and London. Export-Import Bank of India and Bank of Baroda are also in the queue, with the latter even mulling an Additional Tier 1 offering, according to sources familiar with the situation. State Bank of India was the first lender to sell offshore AT1s in late 2016, which didn't find favor with investors because of tight pricing. (manju.dalal@wsj.com; @manjudalalsg)

0103 GMT - Financial institutions across Asia are set to benefit from higher net interest margins as interest rates rise and investment yields increase for insurers, says Daiwa. It likes both China and Hong Kong insurers on interest-rate tailwinds and a better competitive landscape. The investment bank also finds favor with China Construction Bank despite a sector-wide avoid recommendation. (john.wu@wsj.com)

0100 GMT - Hong Leong Financial Group is a cheaper proxy to tap into growth at Malaysia's 5th largest lender Hong Leong Bank and at its current price, investors would effectively be getting its insurance business for free, according to Maybank Kim Eng. Hong Leong Financial, the bank's parent, is trading at a 12% discount on the market value of its 64% stake in Hong Leong Bank, Maybank says. The broker raises its target price on Hong Leong Financial to MYR19.90 from MYR18.40 previously with a buy rating. The stock last closed at MYR17.90. (yantoultra.ngui@wsj.con; @yantoultra)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 23, 2018 04:20 ET (09:20 GMT)

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