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Moody's: Asset quality of Singapore's banks will remain broadly stable for rest of 2018

10 May 2018

Singapore, May 10, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service says that the asset performance of Singapore's three largest banks by assets -- DBS Bank Ltd. (DBS, Aa1/Aa1 stable, a1), Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd (OCBC, Aa1/Aa1 stable, a1) and United Overseas Bank Limited (UOB, Aa1/Aa1 stable, a1) -- will remain broadly stable over the rest of 2018 amid benign credit conditions.

Moody's conclusion follows the reporting by the three of stronger profitability and asset quality in the first quarter of 2018, while their capital buffers remained stable and were unaffected by the transition to SFRS(I) 9, the new accounting standard.

"On 1 January 2018, the three banks adopted SFRS(I) 9, which requires them to provision for assets using an expected credit loss (ECL) approach," says Simon Chen, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst.

"Under the new standard, they reported total ECL allowances at around 90% of their nonperforming assets (NPAs) in the quarter, a level largely similar to the end of 2017; and over the next 12-18 months, we expect their coverage ratios to remain fairly stable on the back of favorable credit conditions," adds Chen.

Moody's conclusions are contained in its just-released report on DBS, OCBC and UOB, "First quarter 2018 results show improved profitability and asset quality, stable capital".

With asset performance, the three banks' nonperforming loan (NPL) ratios declined on lower net NPL formation, in particular from their oil and gas exposures. They also recognized most of their oil and gas-related NPLs in late 2017 following a portfolio cleanup.

Furthermore, total loss allowances under the new accounting standard totaled around 90% of their nonperforming assets (NPAs), largely unchanged from the end of 2017.

Healthy economic growth in Singapore as well as falling NPL ratios in other ASEAN economies should continue to support asset performance. Moody's baseline scenario assumes real GDP growth of 2.6% in Singapore in 2018, marginally lower than 2.8% in 2017.

All three banks reported better pre-provision and net profitability, and profitability will continue to improve in 2018 because net interest margins (NIMs) will benefit from higher local interest rates and non-interest income growth will remain robust. Low provisions will further contribute to net profit.

Furthermore, core capital ratios remained strong and little impacted by the transition to SFRS(I) 9. Moody's expects loan growth in 2018 at 7-8% for the three banks, driven by both domestic and overseas loans. At this pace, the banks can sustain their capital positions by internal capital generation from their strong earnings.

Liquidity tightened during the quarter on faster loan growth, but has remained robust. In addition, the banks' loan to deposit ratios remained comfortably below 100% in both their Singapore dollar and US dollar portfolios.

They also reported net stable funding ratios (NSFR) that were comfortably above the 100% minimum that domestic systemically important banks need to comply with from 1 January 2018 onward. All this suggests that they have sufficient liquidity buffers to accommodate potential credit growth ahead.

Subscribers can read the full report at:

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York +1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at or visit our web site at

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Simon Chen
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Graeme Knowd
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 81 3 5408 4110
Client Service: 81 3 5408 4100

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

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