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Malaysian banks stand firm against external headwinds
Published on: Monday, April 22, 2024
By: Bernama
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Malaysian banks stand firm against external headwinds
Stable labour market conditions and proactive write-off policies are expected to assist banks in maintaining low non-performing loan ratios, says S&P Global Ratings.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysian banks demonstrated robust asset quality and are well-positioned to navigate external challenges, said S&P Global Ratings in its chartbook-style commentary published today.

Titled “Malaysian Banking Sector Review: Standing Firm in the Face of External Headwinds,” the chartbook underscores the superior asset quality of Malaysia’s banks compared to regional counterparts, evident in lower credit losses and non-performing loan (NPL) ratios.

“Economic conditions are stable in Malaysia, which will support credit demand,” said S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Nikita Anand.

Nikita said an uptick in corporate borrowing, driven by key infrastructure initiatives, is anticipated to boost credit expansion to 6% in 2024, up from 5% last year.

“Additionally, retail credit growth is projected to remain robust, while funding conditions are expected to stabilise with fixed deposit rates appearing to have peaked,” she added.

Nikita also said Malaysian banks have limited upside in profitability, with the sector’s return on assets expected to remain flat at 1.2% in 2024.

“This is because net interest margins could decline further, especially if competitive pressures intensify in the country’s saturated banking sector,” she said.

Moreover, she said the banking sector’s exposure to currency depreciation risks is deemed manageable, given its limited direct exposure to external debt.

“The sector’s exposure to corporates with unhedged foreign currency liabilities represents a mere 0.5% of total loans.

“We anticipate a modest deterioration in asset quality. This could come from restructured loans for low-income households and small businesses,” she said.

Nikita also noted that sustained currency depreciation could impact import-reliant sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and agriculture.

She said stable labour market conditions, along with proactive write-off policies, are expected to assist banks in maintaining low NPL ratios.

“Malaysian banks’ stable capitalisation also provides ample loss-absorption buffer,” she noted.

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