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Cost-cutting still weighing on European banks

Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 01:46

Earnings numbers from SocGen, Commerzbank, ING, Generali and StanChart paint the latest European banking picture. As Kate King reports, it's one of contrasting fortunes.

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Any hope that a strong eurozone economy would feed through to better results for banks, clouding over on Wednesday. Germany's Commerzbank lost 637 million euros in the second quarter, more than analysts had predicted, and far worse than the year before. Societe Generale also underperforming next to its French rivals posting lower revenues in equities trading. Its shares falling as much as 4 percent after the European open. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER THAL LARSEN, EMEA EDITOR FOR REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING: "That hope of improvement is still some way off. Banks are still grappling with issues of low profitability in their core businesses with volatile markets and the benefits that they'll get from having higher interest rates in the future will take quite a while to come through, even if those interest rates actually go up." Standard Chartered, the British giant with an Asia focus, says it's positioned to resume growth after two years of heavy cost-cutting. A 1.8 billion dollar first half profit, backing that up - but even that wasn't enough to resume dividend pay-outs, sending its shares tumbling 5 percent. SOUNDBITE (English) PETER THAL LARSEN, EMEA EDITOR FOR REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS, SAYING: "They haven't made quite as much progress as some investors have hoped. And crucially they've said that they're not going to pay a dividend for the first half of the year. And some people had been hoping that they might actually be able to pay some dividend which would then be a signal of confidence about the bank's future recovery." It was left to the Netherlands then to provide the good news. ING reporting a better than expected quarterly profit of 1.4 billion euros - that though still 1 percent lower than a year earlier. The boost provided by 700-thousand new customers, attracted by the strength of its mobile banking software.

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Cost-cutting still weighing on European banks

Wednesday, August 02, 2017 - 01:46