RETAIL BANKING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Weekly Global News Wrap Up: European bank returns trail behind US; Spain reverses loan tax ruling

And Wells Fargo is bullish about its investment banking arm.

From CNBC: Europe's top banks may have survived a milestone test of their resilience but strengthened balance sheets count for little when they generate such meager returns compared with U.S. rivals, investors say.

However, EU banks' average return on equity in 2017 stood at 5.6 percent, just over half the 2007 level of 10.6 percent, according to data from the European Banking Federation and below the 9 percent recorded by U.S. peers.

U.S. lenders' investment banking businesses have increased their market share at the expense of their European rivals, thanks to weaker markets and tougher regulations in Europe, and laid bare in much more impressive operating margins - a key measure of profitability - for the U.S. banks.

From Reuters: Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that banks are not required to pay stamp duty on mortgages, sparing them from potentially having to reimburse billions of euros to borrowers who for years have paid the tax themselves.

The decision reverses a ruling in mid-October in which the Supreme Court upset the status quo by declaring that banks, not their customers, were legally responsible for the tax - spelling a potential windfall for borrowers but a big risk for banks which lobbied hard against the change over the past weeks.

The Spanish banking association AEB welcomed Tuesday’s ruling, saying it was in line with legal framework in other European countries.

From Bloomberg: Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry isn’t giving up on the bank’s ambitions for investment-banking growth.

“We could easily have twice the contribution five years from now that we do today from the combination of corporate and investment banking,” Shrewsberry told investors Tuesday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Future of Financials 2018 Conference in New York.

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