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The Week In Numbers: United Overseas Bank Shines

Gone are the days of extraordinary economic growth rates in Singapore, it seems. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said economic growth will continue to be muted. It added that core inflation will be above the historical average and that productivity growth will be constrained.

This year, our Garden City is likely to grow around 3%, which for a developed economy should be viewed as respectable. While growth at home might be considered subdued, businesses that are exposed to a recovering US could fare relatively favourably. But those that depend on the Eurozone and China could find it tougher.

Bad loans on top of higher regulation and compliance costs have taken a toll on Standard Chartered. The Asian-focussed bank said profits fell 16% in the third quarter. It added that earnings in the second half would also fall. But there were no such problems at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (SGX: O39), which reported a 62% jump in third-quarter profits thanks to a one-off gain in China.

United Overseas Bank (SGX: U11) was in the pink too. It reported a 19% jump in quarterly earnings. Not to be left out, DBS Group (SGX: D05) said its third-quarter profits rose 17%.

China claims it exported US$37.6b worth of goods to Hong Kong in September. Meanwhile, Hong Kong said it only imported US24.1b worth of goods from China. Someone somewhere should go back and check their adding up. The discrepancy between the two figures, which amounts to US$13.5b, raises questions about China’s economic growth, which continues to hinge on exports.

The waiting is now over. The US Federal Reserve has finally called time on its six-year-long money-printing experiment known as Quantitative Easing. Since 2008, the Fed has added US$3.7 trillion worth of assets to its balance sheet. But the US central bank is now reasonably confident that the US economic recovery would continue, even though there are worrying signs of slowdown elsewhere in the world. The next step should be an increase in interest rates. But the Fed said that is unlikely for a “considerable time”.

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