Standard Chartered hit by China forex suspension
Standard Chartered sees its profits fall as key markets in Asia and the US slow Reuters

Standard Chartered saw its profits in the first six months of its year cut by almost half as the bank struggled against lower growth in key markets in Asia and the US.

The Asia-focused bank said group underlying pre-tax profit fell by 46% to $994m (£745m, €888m) in the half year to the end of June, compared to $1.8bn 12 months ago as markets slowed in Hong Kong and Singapore as well as North America.

The group added that uncertainty following the UK's referendum on EU membership may "impact global growth".

Chief executive Bill Winters said the "environment remains challenging", with the business adding that it expected its performance this year to remain subdued.

The bank is in the middle of an ongoing restructuring programme that sees it selling off non-core businesses and cutting costs to improve financial returns.

Winters, who took the helm last June, has shaken up the bank's top management and pared back the lender, after years of expansion under former boss Peter Sands.

Income in the period dropped 20% to $6.8bn as the bank continues to sell divisions, while it also reported an improvement in bad debts, posting impairment losses of $1.1bn compared with $1.7bn a year ago.

Winters said: "We have made good progress in the year since I joined, strengthening our bank, becoming more efficient and investing in our future.

"By maintaining our financial strength and completing our transformation we will be able to weather near-term volatility, fix our legacy issues, capture significant underlying opportunities as they arise, and, in time, generate returns above our cost of capital.

"The environment remains challenging but we are getting on with the plan."

Last November Mr Winters said he planned to restructure or dispose of $100bn of risky assets, cut $2.9bn from its annual cost base and axe 15,000 jobs by 2018, in an attempt to turn around the bank.

It added in the six-month period restructuring charges hit $115m, which means that total turnaround charges are just below $2bn.

The group appointed a new chairman last week, hiring José Viñals from the International Monetary Fund a year and a half after current chairmen Sir John Peace announced his intention to step down.