Islamic banks in GCC likely to outperform conventional counterparts: Report

Analysts at Moody’s said that Islamic banks perform better primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on largely stable current and savings account balances. (Reuters)
Updated 19 March 2017

Islamic banks in GCC likely to outperform conventional counterparts: Report

JEDDAH: The profitability of Islamic banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is likely to outpace that of their conventional peers for the second consecutive year in 2017 on the back of stronger margins and the resilient cost of risk, said a report issued by Moody’s Investors Service.

According to the report, Islamic banks have become more profitable than their conventional counterparts in 2016 after trailing for five years.
“Islamic banks will be able to maintain their profitability in 2017, as lower funding costs will support their margins against a backdrop of rising interest rates, while improvements in their risk management and asset quality will further ease the pressure on their cost of risk,” said Nitish Bhojnagarwala, assistant vice president — analyst at Moody’s.
Analysts at Moody’s said that Islamic banks perform better primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on largely stable current and savings account balances. “Islamic banks also tend to have higher asset yields, given their focus on retail and the real estate-related lending,” the report said.
Moody’s expects that Islamic banks will retain a margin advantage of about 40 basis points over conventional banks in 2017. Islamic banks’ net profit margins are analogous to conventional banks’ net interest margins.
“The cost of risk for Islamic banks has converged with the conventional peers as they diversify away from real estate lending toward other sectors and tighten their risk management practices. In the past, higher impairment charges on loans and investments have dampened Islamic banks’ profitability,” said Bhojnagarwala.
“Conventional banks will continue to beat Islamic peers in terms of cost efficiency,” he added.
Islamic banks have a higher cost base because they are younger and more focused on retail customer segments. This means higher levels of investment in branch network expansion and technology. Conventional banks in the GCC, in contrast, have already established their branch networks.


Oil prices surge after attacks hit Saudi output

Updated 16 September 2019

Oil prices surge after attacks hit Saudi output

  • The Houthi attacks hit two Aramco sites and effectively shut down six percent of the global oil supply
  • President Donald Trump said Sunday the US was ‘locked and loaded’ to respond to the attacks

HONG KONG: Oil prices saw a record surge Monday after attacks on two Saudi facilities slashed output in the world’s top producer by half, fueling fresh geopolitical fears as Donald Trump blamed Iran and raised the possibility of a military strike on the country.
Brent futures surged $12 in the first few minutes of business — the most in dollar terms since they were launched in 1988 and representing a jump of nearly 20 percent — while WTI jumped more than $8, or 15 percent.
Both contracts pared the gains but were both still more than 10 percent up.
The attack by Tehran-backed Houthi militia in neighboring Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war, hit two sites owned by state-run giant Aramco and effectively shut down six percent of the global oil supply.
Trump said Sunday the US was “locked and loaded” to respond to the attack, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression.”
Tehran denies the accusations but the news revived fears of a conflict in the tinderbox Middle East after a series of attacks on oil tankers earlier this year that were also blamed on Iran.
“Tensions in the Middle East are rising quickly, meaning this story will continue to reverberate this week even after the knee-jerk panic in oil markets this morning,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA.
Trump authorized the release of US supplies from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve, while Aramco said more than half of the five million barrels of production lost will be restored by tomorrow.
But the strikes raise concerns about the security of supplies from the world’s biggest producer.
Oil prices had dropped last week after news that Trump had fired his anti-Iran hawkish national security adviser John Bolton, which was seen as paving the way for an easing of tensions in the region.
“One thing we can say with confidence is that if part of the reason for last week’s fall in oil and improvement in geopolitical risk sentiment was the news of John Bolton’s sacking ... and thoughts this was a precursor to some form of rapprochement between Trump and Iran, then it is no longer valid,” said Ray Attrill at National Australia Bank.