South Africa - Cape Town - 7 August 2019 - Standard Bank branch in Claremont, Cape Town. Standard Bank on Thursday reported a five percent increase to 837 cents in headline earnings per share for the six months to June 30. Picture Dylan Jacobs/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Standard Bank on Thursday reported a five percent increase to 837 cents in headline earnings per share for the six months to June 30 and declared a dividend of 454 cents per share, up six percent from the same period last year.

"Standard Bank group’s African-focused strategy has delivered continued headline earnings growth, driven by the strong underlying momentum in our core operations," group CEO Sim Tshabalala said.

The bank said strong balance sheet growth supported net interest income while pressure on fees and continued customer migration to digital channels dampened non-interest revenue growth.

On the back of continued strong earnings growth, Africa Regions’ contribution to banking headline earnings grew to 34 percent from 32 percent in the first half of 2018, with the top six contributors being Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda.

Standard Bank said the persistent uncertainty associated with the United States-China trade war and the threat of a global slow-down weighed on markets in the first half of 2019, although a change in the US interest rate outlook provided some support to emerging markets flows in the second quarter, as investors searched for yield.

In South Africa, ongoing uncertainty weighed on confidence, spending and investment.

"Given SA’s fiscal constraints and weak consumer and business confidence, consumption and investment are likely to remain subdued," it said. "Against a backdrop of a deteriorating fiscal position, increasing unemployment and slower than expected reform, GDP growth expectations have been reduced to 0.6 percent for 2019."

Tshabalala said while there might be headwinds in certain markets, the diversity of Standard Bank's businesses and the breadth of its footprint provided it with some shelter.

"In addition, our on-the-ground presence and deep understanding of the macro, political and regulatory dynamics in each of these markets, enable the group to continue to support our customers and our employees, whilst managing risk appropriately," he said.

"Recognising that the group’s sustainability, over the medium to long term, is inextricably linked to that of all our stakeholders, we remain committed to our shared value model and steadfast in delivering on our purpose of driving Africa’s growth."

- African News Agency (ANA)