StanChart profit falls 12% on coronavirus crisisStanChart profit falls 12% on coronavirus crisis
Passersby walk in front of the main branch of Standard Chartered in Hong Kong

HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters) – Standard Chartered PLC said on Wednesday its first-quarter profit tumbled 12%, as the emerging markets-focused bank boosted provisions against bad loans as the coronavirus crisis hammers its borrowers.

Pretax profit for January-March was $1.22 billion, versus $1.38 billion in the same period a year earlier, the London-headquartered bank said in a stock exchange filing.

The announcement came a day after bigger cross-town rival HSBC Holdings PLC said its first-quarter profit nearly halved as bad loan provisions jumped to $3 billion.

As a British-based lender focused on Asia, Africa and the Middle East, StanChart’s profit slump showed how the pandemic is hitting businesses worldwide as governments freeze their economies to slow the virus’ spread.

StanChart raised its expected credit loss provisions to $6.2 billion in the quarter from $5.8 billion at the end of December last year, it said in the earnings statement.

StanChart, however, struck a much more positive tone than other European lenders that have reported earnings so far, saying it expects the global economy to move out of recession in the later part of the year, driven by its main markets.

The bank said it is seeing encouraging signs in China that the recovery could be yet more rapid than that.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong and Lawrence White in London; Editing by Christopher Cushing)