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Moody's: M'sian banks well placed to manage weakening economy

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Moody's Investors Service said its outlook for the Malaysian banking system remains stable, as strong loss-absorbing buffers should mitigate a potential rise in credit costs and moderating profitability over the next 12 to 18 months.

"The banks are well positioned to manage the challenges associated with Malaysia's weakening economy and the vulnerable oil and gas, real estate and construction sectors, supported in particular by strong loan-loss reserves and solid capital ratios," Moody's vice-president and senior credit officer Alka Anbarasu said.

A slowdown in trade, private investment and government spending would result in a moderation in gross domestic product growth to 4.4 percent in 2019 and 4.3 percent in 2020.

Nevertheless, domestic private demand would remain supported by stable employment conditions and wage growth, Moody's said in a statement released in Kuala Lumpur today.

It said while asset risk would rise, overall loan performance should remain stable with the system's strong loan-loss buffers sufficient to absorb a potential rise in delinquencies.

Loan-loss reserves for most rated banks increased in 2018 following the adoption of the Malaysian Financial Reporting Standard 9.

Capitalisation would also remain stable, it said.

"Despite weaker profit, banks can generate sufficient capital to support potential asset growth through risk-weighted assets optimisation and dividend reinvestment. Testifying to its resilience, the system-wide capital ratio still satisfies regulatory requirements even in a stress scenario," Moody's added.

It said profitability, as indicated, would deteriorate as subdued asset growth and stiff competition for deposits would pressure net interest margins and pre-provision income.

"But funding and liquidity should remain robust, as deposit growth keeps pace with moderate loan growth," it added.

- Bernama

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