Johannesburg - Standard Bank said sluggishness in the South African economy was likely to persist for the rest of the year, holding back its domestic revenue growth.

Africa's largest lender still reported a slight uptick in first-half earnings on Thursday, helped by earnings growth in both lending and fees.

The bank, which is 20 percent owned by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has been pushing to expand business in fast-growing sub-Saharan markets to offset chronic weakness in the economy at home.

South Africans have been hit by higher food and fuel costs and waves of strikes have dented corporate confidence.

“Sluggishness in the South African economy is expected to persist for the remainder of 2014, which is likely to hamper domestic revenue growth and may affect the confidence of our customer base,” Standard Bank said in a statement.

Diluted headline earnings were 507.7 cents a share in the six months to the end of June, up from 504.5 cents a year earlier.

The results reflected an accounting change related to the sale of the bank's global markets business outside of Africa this year.

Diluted headline earnings for continuing operations, which exclude the global markets business, rose by 10 percent.

Shares of the bank were down 1.6 percent at 143.53 rand at 09:07 SA time. - Reuters