Standard Chartered lifted by Hong Kong rally

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The Independent Online

Standard Chartered, the bank focused on Asia and developing countries, yesterday delivered an upbeat picture about prospects for the full year on the back of a strong recovery in Hong Kong's economy.

The Chinese territory, where Standard Chartered makes a quarter of its profit, pulled out of recession in the third quarter of the year, bringing a return to confidence among businesses that have been hit by Sars and increasing consumer indebtedness.

Standard Chartered, which had curbed lending earlier this year after credit-card bankruptcies surged, said the territory's recovery helped boost its business in the third quarter. Its shares rose 2.5p to 907.5p. The London-based bank's bad debt charge for this year will be "materially better" than the analysts' estimates of about $640m (£367m), Peter Sands, finance director, said. "In Hong Kong, we had a much more positive business environment and we're seeing that coming through pretty much in all lines of our business," Mr Sands said. The statement came after HSBC, Standard Chartered's major rival in the area, was also upbeat about the pick-up in business there.

Mervyn Davies, who took over as chief executive of Standard Chartered in November 2001, is trying to boost returns from consumer banking in markets with growing middle classes such as Thailand and Indonesia.

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