China Banks and the Trade War
HEFFX remains bullish on China’s Banks
Chinese banking giant ICBC, the world’s biggest bank by assets, posted solid profit growth for the first half of the year Thursday but warned that the US-China trade war could pose risks.
Net profit for Industrial & Commercial Bank of China climbed almost five percent to 160.4 billion yuan ($23.5 billion) between January and June compared to the same period last year, the bank said in a statement to the Hong Kong exchange, where it is listed.
The country’s three other top banks posted similarly strong results this week.
China’s second largest lender, China Construction Bank, said earlier this week that its net profit grew 6.3 percent to 147 billion yuan.
Agricultural Bank of China reported a 6.6 percent jump to 115.8 billion yuan.
Bank of China said net profit was up 5.2 percent to 109.1 billion yuan in the first half.
All of China’s four biggest banks saw profit growth largely flat-line in 2015 and 2016 as concerns grew over rising bad loans.
Earnings have improved since a government campaign to clean up bad loans and risky lending in China’s often chaotic and murky financial system last year.
The crackdown is seen as hitting smaller lenders and wealth management companies hardest, driving them to seek loans from the established banks in order to clean up their balance sheets.
But ICBC warned that the trade dispute with the United States could bring more risks for the bank in the future.
“The US-China trade frictions may in particular negatively affect multiple sectors, bringing more risks and disturbances to bank operations,” ICBC said in the earnings report.
The United States has imposed steep tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion of Chinese goods since July, with Beijing retaliating dollar for dollar.
US President Donald Trump has also threatened to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.