India Dispatch: Volatile currency markets and a tough economic backdrop in India are likely to present significant challenges in the coming months, Standard Chartered said.
Challenges in India for StanChart
The bank's comments came as the fragile Indian rupee hit a record low against the US dollar of 61.8 in trading yesterday.
"While we have good momentum, there are still challenges on the macro and currency front," said Anurag Adlakha, Standard Chartered's chief financial officer, India and South Asia. "As such, we remain cautiously optimistic about the longer term prospects for our business in India", he said.
The bank expected India "to remain a key engine of income and earnings growth for the group".
Standard Chartered's income in the country rose 17 per cent in the first half of the year compared with the same time last year, while operating profit was up 45 per cent.
The weakness of the rupee in recent months, however, had a "5 per cent drag" on its first-half results for India, the bank said.
"Clearly, we are conscious that it creates a lot of volatility for our clients and our customers and that's an area that we watch very closely," said Sunil Kaushal, StanChart's chief executive for the region.
"Over the last few weeks, given the volatility in the currency markets, given the increase in interest rates, we would expect a further slowdown in the credit offering on both the consumer side as well as the wholesale side," Mr Kaushal said.
The Reserve Bank of India last month enacted liquidity tightening measures to support the rupee.
The liquidity squeeze is expected to affect banks, hold back the country's economic recovery and add to the challenges in the corporate sector, analysts say.
"Credit quality of corporates is likely to be weakened by slow growth in GDP, heightened currency volatility, and higher-than-expected interest rates," said Roopa Kudva, the managing director and chief executive of Crisil, a global analytical company.
StanChart is confident in the longer-term prospects for India, however. "We remain convinced that India will become one of the world's largest economies and as such remains one of our biggest growth opportunities," said Mr Adlakha.