UPDATE 1-Singapore bank UOB eyes lower credit costs, Q4 profit falls 32%

(Recasts with comments and sector performance)

SINGAPORE, Feb 25 (Reuters) - United Overseas Bank Ltd reported a 32% fall in quarterly profit as Singapore’s smallest listed bank said its net interest income declined and credit losses swelled.

Just like its larger peers OCBC and DBS, UOB said on Thursday it expects credit costs to ease this year as government moratorium programmes launched at the start of the pandemic come to an end.

UOB CEO Wee Ee Cheong said the bank would rebalance its business to focus on wealth management services, with net interest margins expected to stay low.

The lender’s October-December net profit slumped to S$688 million ($521.7 million) from S$1 billion a year earlier, in line with an average estimate of S$696.3 million from four analysts, according to data from Refinitiv.

However, profit and net interest margin edged up from the third quarter. Full-year profit declined by one-third.

Both OCBC and DBS flagged an improved business outlook and analysts forecast strong revenue from the wealth business to drive a rebound in Singapore banks’ full-year profit. ($1 = 1.3188 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Leslie Adler & Shri Navaratnam)