Singapore banks up on record earnings; index rallies from 2-wk lows

SINGAPORE, April 30 Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:13am EDT

SINGAPORE, April 30 (Reuters) - Singapore bank shares surged on Wednesday after two top lenders reported record profit for the first quarter, propping up the main index from 2-week lows.

DBS Group Holdings Ltd shares jumped as much as 2.8 percent to S$17.31, their highest in more than 3 months, while OCBC Ltd shares gained 3.2 percent to a 3-week high of S$9.77. The gains pushed the Singapore index up 0.77 percent from the 2-week low it hit on Tuesday.

The two banks posted record quarterly profit that beat market estimates, powered by a double-digit growth in loans and improving interest rate margins.

UOB Ltd shares rallied from 5-week lows, leaping 3.4 percent to S$21.89, though its first-quarter results are not due until after the market closes.

CIMB maintained its "add" rating on DBS and left its target price of S$20.28 unchanged, saying in a research note it believed banks would be an outperforming asset class in Singapore this year.

The brokerage also kept its "hold" rating on OCBC with a target price of S$10.08.

Among other stocks, shares of Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings Ltd advanced 1.8 percent after the Chinese company said its net profit rose 11 percent from a year earlier, as profit growth from its investment business compensated for the slide in shipbuilding earnings. (Reporting by Andrew Toh; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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