StanChart warns on 2014 profits as markets arm slumps

Standard Chartered on Thursday warned of lower profits this year after a 20 per cent slump in first-half earnings, as tougher regulations and low market volatility hit its trading business.

The bank also said the head of its financial markets business, Lenny Feder, was taking a one-year sabbatical and would not return in the same role.

Revenues from the financial markets business, which includes equities, commodities, foreign exchange and other capital markets activities, are set to fall by a fifth in the first half from a year ago, the bank said in a trading update.

That extends a slump seen since the middle of last year when trading volumes at Standard Chartered and rivals were hit as clients do less business in a low interest rate environment and banks have to hold more capital against these businesses. Interest rate and foreign exchange trading have been particularly hit.

Standard Chartered last year reported its first drop in full year profits for a decade and it had been expected to show a modest bounce back this year.

Its London-listed shares were down 5.2 percent by 0920 GMT, after falling to their lowest level since August 2012.

Analysts said the weak trading conditions add to other difficulties in some of its markets.

"Cyclical headwinds are yet to arrive in full force in the bank's two key markets – Hong Kong and Singapore. Not that Korea or India is out of the woods either," Chirantan Barua, analyst at Bernstein, said.

"Pack that in with a challenging and uncertain capital regime that won't be resolved 'till the end of the year and you have a great deal of uncertainly around the stock," he said.

Standard Chartered said Feder, who has run its financial markets for seven years, will take a sabbatical from July 19 for personal reasons, and it had started a search for a permanent replacement.

Asked if was fair to assume Feder will not return as head of financial markets, Chief Executive Peter Sands said: "Given we are initiating a process to make a permanent appointment you can draw that conclusion."

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