Asia-focused bank Standard Chartered (StanChart) posted a drop in first-quarter profit yesterday, hurt by lower investment bank revenue, weaker Asian currencies and problems at its South Korean business.

The London-based bank, which earns about four-fifths of its income from Asia, said the weak first-quarter conditions had continued last month and so far this month.

StanChart, which does not publish full quarterly results, said its first-quarter operating profit was down by between 6 percent and 9 percent from a year earlier and revenue was down by less than 5 percent, broadly in line with analyst expectations.

Revenues in its financial markets division fell 16 percent after a slowdown in trading of interest rate products, in particular, which has been seen across investment banks.

Last year StanChart reported its first drop in annual profit for a decade and said the first half of this year would be difficult due to losses in South Korea and slowing growth in Asia.

Bernstein analyst Chirantan Barua said StanChart might not see a recovery in earnings until mid-2015 as potential economic headwinds in its key markets of Hong Kong and Singapore could add to the bank’s problems in South Korea and India.

The stock was up 2.4 percent by 3pm in London. – Reuters