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Financial Services Roundup: Market Talk

14 Feb 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.

0918 GMT - Singapore stocks lagged others in the region as earnings season is coming to an end. With banks Oversea-Chinese and United Overseas both falling more than 2% today after their 4Q reports, the Straits Times Index declined 0.4% to 3402.86 as losers slightly topped gainers. Rigbuilders also fell today while Singapore Airlines jumped 5% on its strong F3Q results. (gaurav.raghuvanshi@wsj.com)

0847 GMT - Credit Suisse shares up early after the bank reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter and full-year results. The bank reported a loss of 2.1 billion Swiss francs ($2.3 billion) in the fourth quarter and 983 million Swiss francs for the full year, but this was due to a one-off write down related to U.S. tax changes. Pre-tax profit "is above estimates" said analysts at Vontobel Research, adding that the first six weeks of this year "were strong." Credit Suisse shares up 3%. (brian.blackstone@wsj.com)

0819 GMT - A strong afternoon rally, continued to be fueled by financial and tech stocks, allowed Hong Kong equities to handily outpace the rest of Asia ahead of a pre-holiday half-day of trading on Thursday. The Hang Seng jumped 2.3% to 30515.60 with a number of bank stocks up more than 4%. Smartphone-lens maker Sunny Optical rose the same after jumping 5.7% yesterday while internet heavyweight Tencent climbed 2.7%. (chester.yung@wsj.com;@chester_yung)

0751 GMT - Tencent Holdings will get a chance in the coming weeks to use its technological mastery to try to crack open a financial sector that has remained mostly resistant to online advances: life insurance. The Chinese tech giant just obtained regulatory clearance to start its long-awaited joint venture with British insurer Aviva to digitally sell life insurance in Hong Kong, according to Aviva. The approval from Hong Kong's insurance authority enables the JV to start operations in 1H, the insurer says. The joint venture is also backed by Chinese private-equity investor Hillhouse Capital. (chuin-wei.yap@wsj.com; @YapCW)

0750 GMT - ING boosts its credit assessment on LeasePlan to preferred from stable after the Dutch car-leasing firm posted "robust earnings once more." A preferred assessment denotes expectations of above-par credit quality for the sector in the next six to 12 months. Net profit increased 10% year-on-year and capital ratio requirements act as a limit to bondholder-unfriendly payments in the future. Meanwhile, LeasePlan bonds have recently under-performed those of Belgian bank Belfius and keep offering a pick-up versus Belfius's senior non-preferred debt, ING adds. (tasos.vossos@wsj.com; @tasosvos)

0725 GMT - Credit Suisse posted a "solid set" of 4Q results, say analysts at Baader Helvea Equity Research. The bank reported a loss of CHF2.1 billion ($2.3 billion) in 4Q and CHF983 million for the full year, which were better results than had been expected and were driven by one-off, tax-related charges. This year "is set to be a year in which CS should be able to deliver turnaround benefits from the large-scale restructuring program," Baader Helvea analysts write. "Market estimates are not particularly demanding and in our view, will be revised upwards each time the bank proves to reap fruits from all the self-help measures." (brian.blackstone@wsj.com)

Punjab National Bank's disclosure about fraudulent transactions weren't disclosed with F3Q results. "Fraudulent Transactions at Punjab National Bank -- Market Talk," published at 0544 GMT, incorrectly said they were.

0549 GMT - Commonwealth Bank is joining banks in some other countries in blocking credit-card purchases of virtual currencies. The lender says due to the unregulated and highly volatile nature of these currencies, its customers will no longer be able to use CommBank and Bankwest credit cards from Valentine's Day. Still, customers will still be able to buy and sell cyber currency using their transaction accounts and debit cards. "Given the dynamic, volatile nature of virtual currency markets, this position is regularly reviewed," it adds. (robb.stewart@wsj.com; @RobbMStewart)

0544 GMT - As if bad loans weren't enough to make investors cautious, state-run Punjab National Bank disclosed fraudulent and unauthorized transactions worth $1.77 billion. India's No. 2 state-run lender uncovered activity at a Mumbai branch for the benefit of a few account holders. That as Punjab National last week reported a gross F3Q bad-loan rate of 12%. It set aside about INR30 billion ($469 million) last quarter to cover nonperforming assets. Shares are down 6.7% and at 4-month lows. (debiprasad.nayak@wsj.com)

Corrections & Amplifications

This item corrected at 02:33 a.m. Original incorrectly said Punjab National Bank's disclosure about fraudulent transactions were disclosed with F3Q results

0526 GMT - After a solid rebound yesterday, Australia stocks fell anew today amid a pullback in miner stocks and weakness in many consumer companies. But the biggest factor was the stock-price adjustment from Commonwealth Bank trading ex-dividend. That helped result in the No. 1 lender falling 3%, good for 13 points in the S&P/ASX 200. It fell 14.7 points, or 0.25%, to 5841.2. But it wasn't all back for Aussie stocks, with Myer ticking up 1.9% after the embattled retailer said its CEO was stepping down. And amid a flurry of earnings reports, Insurance Australia gained 3.2% and CSL jumped 5.1%. (robb.stewart@wsj.com; @RobbMStewart)

0509 GMT - As Indian lenders continue to deal with a big pile of bad loans, the central bank's latest regulation is seen bringing some sanity to the issue. The RBI has simplified the framework for resolving stressed assets that will replace all existing laws starting March 1. Jefferies calls the new rules sensible, moving toward international standards, but notes they will likely increase the amount of nonperforming assets this quarter. Also, capital flows to some sectors like infrastructure could be stymied, the investment bank adds. That sector is already facing political and environmental risks. (debiprasad.nayak@wsj.com)

0354 GMT - Bank stocks are strong in Hon Kong this morning, and Hang Seng is among the biggest point providers today for the namesake benchmark stock index. This ahead of next Wednesday's 2017 report, in which JPMorgan expects 20% core-earnings growth on the back of accelerating loan volume. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs expects a more-generous payout. Hang Seng is up 5.9%, on pace for its best day in 2 years, while parent HSBC rises 1.4%. Chinese peers China Construction and ICBC have gained nearly 2% this morning. (john.wu@wsj.com)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 14, 2018 04:20 ET (09:20 GMT)

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