SINGAPORE (Feb 22): After being stung by the market turmoil at the end of last year, Singapore’s banks are bracing for fresh challenges from China-US trade tensions and a slowing world economy.

“We expect ongoing global uncertainties to continue to weigh on business sentiment in the near term,” United Overseas Bank Chief Executive Officer Wee Ee Cheong told reporters Friday in Singapore after fourth-quarter results missed estimates. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp CEO Samuel Tsien said loan growth will slow this year and he predicted more choppiness in Asian markets as geopolitical risks put a strain on the global economy.

The banks’ muted outlooks illustrate how Singapore, Southeast Asia’s finance and shipping hub, is getting slammed by mounting trade disputes and China’s economic slowdown. Adding to lenders’ challenges are easing expectations of interest-rate increases, which typically support loan margins.

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