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South Africa's Standard Bank lifts first-half profit by 11%

[JOHANNESBURG] Standard Bank, Africa's No 2 lender by market value, reported an 11 per cent rise in half-year profit on Thursday, as a rebound in commodity prices boosted demand for loans from clients in the oil and mining industry.

Headline earnings per share (EPS) totalled 746.4 cents in the six months to June compared with 671.2 cents a year earlier, South Africa-based Standard Bank said.

Headline EPS, the main profit measure in South Africa, strips out certain one-off, non-trading items.

Shares in the company rose a much as 2.5 per cent shortly after the market opened, before paring gains to trade 0.9 per cent higher at 165.55 rand, outpacing a slightly higher JSE Top-40 index.

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Facing a downturn in the South African economy, which slipped into recession in the first quarter, Standard Bank is keeping a lid on costs and is scaling back lucrative but risky unsecured consumer loans.

The lender said its cost-to-income ratio, or the difference between running expenses and income, fell to 56.3 per cent from 56.8 per cent.