Business | Thu May 8, 2014 12:34pm IST

StanChart sees profit decline on Asia forex, including rupee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Standard Chartered Plc(STAN.L) said its first-quarter profit fell by a high single-digit percentage compared with last year thanks to tough market conditions and weakness in Asian currencies including the rupee and Indonesian rupiah.

London-based Standard Chartered (2888.HK), which earns about four-fifths of its income from Asia, said income in the financial markets division fell 16 percent amid weak demand for trading interest rate products in particular.

"The difficult market conditions that began last year have continued into the first quarter of 2014 and remain through April and into May," the bank said.

Income will be down by a low single-digit percentage compared to the same year-ago period, while expenses stayed flat, StanChart said in its interim management statement on Thursday.

The bank does not issue full quarterly numbers and releases its earnings twice a year.

StanChart in March reported its first drop in annual profit in a decade and said the first half of 2014 would be difficult due to losses in Korea and slowing growth in Asia.

Income in South Korea fell by $110 million compared with last year as StanChart shrinks its business there, the bank said.

Chief Executive Peter Sands in January launched a reshuffle that saw the surprise exit of Finance Director Richard Meddings, once seen as a successor-in-waiting, and the elevation of Mike Rees to become Sands' deputy.

The bank also announced it would combine its wholesale and consumer banking units from April in an effort to combat the slowdown in its earnings growth by streamlining the business.

Rival HSBC (HSBA.L) reported a 20 percent dip in first-quarter profit on Wednesday as revenue dropped in Brazil and at its investment bank, while last year's earnings were swelled by asset sales.

(Reporting by Lawrence White; Editing by Stephen Coates and Matt Driskill)

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