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UOB says Singapore home loans flat, with growth coming from region

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United Overseas Bank is the second Singapore lender to feel the sting of last year's property cooling measures.

Singapore

UNITED Overseas Bank is the second Singapore lender to feel the sting of last year's property cooling measures.

While UOB posted a rise in its overall mortgage book, the bank said it came from its regional markets. UOB reported higher net profit for its first quarter of 2019, up 8 per cent to S$1.05 billion, from S$978 million for the year-ago period on Friday.

"Housing loan growth was mainly from our regional markets, which saw quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year mortgage loans growth," said a UOB spokeswoman in response to queries from The Business Times. "Singapore mortgage loan growth was flat quarter-on-quarter, and expected to be low single-digit for this year as the impact of cooling measures is still being felt," she said.

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The bank's housing loans rose to S$68.7 billion at end-March 2019, up from S$68.4 billion at end-2018. It was S$66.5 billion a year ago.

In contrast, DBS Group Holdings saw its mortgage book shrink for the first time in years in the first quarter of 2019 in results posted last month.

DBS's total housing loans fell to S$74.4 billion as at March 31, 2019, down from S$75 billion as at end-2018. It was S$73.5 billion on March 31, 2018. The Singapore home loans contraction of "half a billion dollars" was due to last year's round of government property curbs, DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said.

UOB said the region will help it achieve mid single-digit loan growth for the year. It expects mid single-digit loan growth this year, mainly from regional connectivity growth opportunities. As at end-March 2019, gross loans grew 12 per cent year-on-year and 3 per cent quarter-on-quarter to S$270 billion, led by a broad-based increase across all territories and industries, UOB said.

Singapore loans rose 8 per cent year-on-year to S$139 billion in the quarter, while regional countries contributed a strong growth of 14 per cent in the same period.

UOB's global network of more than 500 branches and offices is mainly in Asean. It has subsidiaries in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as branches and offices across the region.

READ MORE: UOB posts 8% rise in Q1 profit to S$1.05b on stronger income growth