Standard Chartered's 2019 pre-tax profit rises to $4.2bn

Standard Chartered bank warned income growth will be lower in 2020 because of the coronavirus

Standard Chartered said Thursday its pre-tax profit rose to $4.2 billion last year but warned growth for 2020 would likely be dented by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Asia-focused British bank said pre-tax profit surged eight percent in 2019 despite what the group's chief executive Bill Winters described as "an increasingly challenging external environment".

In a statement attached to the results, Winters said the bank faced low interest rates, a slowing global economy, the US-China trade war and several months of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year.

And now coronavirus is wreaking growing economic havoc.

"These external challenges will mean that income growth in 2020 is likely to be lower than our anticipated 5-7 per cent medium term range," said Winters, although he described the economic headwinds in 2020 as "transitory".

The results showed greater China and North Asia fared well with three percent growth while Africa and Middle East surged 29 percent and was the bank's fastest-growing market.

Bank chairman Jose Vinals said geopolitics and societal change have become "more uncertain than ever".

"This means that instability and rapid change are becoming the new normal," Vinals added.

Last week, Asia-focused HSBC axed 35,000 jobs and posted a third of pre-tax profit slump in the 2019 annual profits to $13.3 billion.