By Anshuman Daga
SINGAPORE, July 29 (Reuters) - DBS Group Holdings Ltd DBSM.SI beat market estimates with a 17% increase in second-quarter profit as rising interest rates in Singapore and Hong Kong pushed the biggest Southeast Asian lender's net interest income to a record high.
DBS, the first Singaporean bank to kick off the sector's results, maintained its mid-single-digit percent loan growth forecast for the full year.
Analysts however say the outlook for banks is getting challenging, with interest rates declining and Singapore's economy growing at its slowest annual pace in a decade in the second quarter due to a drop in manufacturing output and exports.
DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said in a statement that the bank had reported a record half-year performance "despite heightened economic uncertainty and geopolitical tensions."
The results "reflected the strengths of an entrenched broad-based franchise that is well placed to nimbly navigate market volatility," he added.
DBS's net profit came in at S$1.6 billion ($1.2 billion) in the three months ending June, versus S$1.37 billion a year earlier and an average estimate of S$1.47 billion from three analysts, according to data from Refinitiv.
The bank, in which Singaporean state investor Temasek Holdings TEM.UL owns nearly 30%, said it saw sustained business momentum from loan and fee income growth, led by wealth management. Total income advanced 16% to S$3.7 billion and net interest income rose 9% to a record high of S$2.43 billion.
Loans grew 5% in constant-currency terms and net interest margin, a key gauge of profitability, improved six basis points to 1.91%.
Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp OCBC.SI and United Overseas Bank UOBH.SI report results on Friday.
($1 = 1.3690 Singapore dollars)
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Chris Cushing and Stephen Coates)
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