UBS annual profits soar to $4.9 billion

UBS’ net income for the whole of 2018 was still up 25 percent from the previous year. (Reuters)
Updated 22 January 2019
0

UBS annual profits soar to $4.9 billion

  • UBS had seen its 2017 results hammered by US tax reforms
  • Net income for the whole of 2018 was still up 25 percent from the previous year

ZURICH: Swiss banking giant UBS saw its net profits leap by almost five times last year to $4.9 billion (€4.3 billion) despite “challenging conditions,” it said Tuesday.

UBS’ 2017 results were hammered by US tax reforms that forced banks that operate in the United States to book substantial one-time losses in the final quarter of that year, but which were expected to be mostly favorable beyond that.

Excluding the impact of changes in US tax laws, UBS net income for 2018 as a whole was still up by 25 percent from the previous year.

“I want to thank all UBS employees for a very successful 2018 in overall challenging conditions,” chief executive Sergio P. Ermotti said in a statement.

He underscored geopolitical tensions, increased protectionism and trade friction, and financial market volatility, all of which weighed on investor sentiment in the second half of the year.

“We’ve seen some normalization in markets early in 2019, we will stay focused on balancing efficiency and investments for growth, in order to keep delivering on our capital return objectives while creating sustainable long-term value for our shareholders,” Ermotti said.

Commenting on the fourth quarter 2018, he added: “The strength of our strategic choices and diversified franchise once again came through ... as we delivered a resilient performance despite historically tough market conditions.”

Net profit in the quarter came to $696 million, below an average analyst forecast compiled by the Swiss agency AWP, of $751 million.

Transactions by clients in the Americas and Asia Pacific region slumped, with the investment bank unit posting a plunge of 84 percent in pre-tax operating profit owing to a difficult market environment.


US-China trade talks resume in Washington from Tuesday

Updated 47 min 18 sec ago
0

US-China trade talks resume in Washington from Tuesday

  • The last set of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal
  • The next round of negotiations will commence with deputy-level meetings before moving on to principal-level talks on Thursday

WASHINGTON: US-China trade talks aimed at ending a damaging tariff war will resume from Tuesday in Washington, the White House has announced.
The last set of talks ended Friday in Beijing with no deal, though US President Donald Trump said the discussions were going “extremely well” and suggested he could extend a March 1 truce deadline for an agreement to be reached.
The next round of negotiations will commence with deputy-level meetings before moving on to principal-level talks on Thursday, a White House statement issued Monday said.
For the US, the talks will be led by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, economic policy adviser Larry Kudlow, and trade adviser Peter Navarro.
China’s commerce ministry meanwhile announced it would be represented by Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing’s top trade negotiator.
On Friday, Trump re-iterated he might be willing to hold off on increasing tariffs to 25 percent from the current 10 percent on March 1 on $200 billion in Chinese goods if Washington and Beijing are close to finalizing an agreement to deal with US complaints about unfair trade and theft of American technology.
American officials accuse Beijing of seeking global industrial predominance through an array of unfair trade practices, including the “theft” of American intellectual property and massive state intervention in commodities markets.
Since a December detente, China has resumed purchases of some US soybeans and dangled massive buying of American commodities to get US trade negotiators closer to a deal.
The talks are aimed at “achieving needed structural changes in China that affect trade between the United States and China,” Monday’s statement said.
“The two sides will also discuss China’s pledge to purchase a substantial amount of goods and services from the United States.”
Beijing and Washington have imposed duties on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which are weighing on their manufacturing sectors and have shaken global financial markets.