RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Hong Kong

Wing Hang profits down by 45.4%

Wing Hang Bank blames unemployment and shrinking trade for its 45.4 percent decrease in profits for the first half of 2009.The Group achieved US$66.1 million in profit attributable to shareholders, representing a decrease of 45.4 percent compared to the same period last year but an increase of 129.0 percent over the second half of 2008. Earnings per share fell 45.3 percent to US$0.2245. The Board has declared an interim dividend of US$0.028 per share, 79.2 percent lower than that of the same period last year.According to the bank, "The recession continued to impact the local banking sector as loan demand remained weak and fee income declined."Being a small open economy, Hong Kong's trade sector has been severely affected by the slump in global demand. GDP declined 7.8 percent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter. Hong Kong's re-exports were particularly badly hit by the contraction in global consumption. The unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent in June compared with 4.1 percent at the end of 2008.

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