Higher Interest Rates a 'Bright Spot' for Europe's Banks

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European banks are hoping the boost to their businesses from higher interest rates will be long-lasting as they navigate the economic fallout of war, soaring inflation, and a looming energy crisis, Reuters reported. The German lender Commerzbank on Wednesday reported a bigger-than-expected second-quarter net profit that it said was especially helped by higher interest rates. Exhibiting a trend seen across Europe, Commerzbank's net interest income jumped 26% in the period from a year earlier as longer-term interest rates rose in Germany and as the central bank in Poland, where it has a big presence, hiked official borrowing costs. Manfred Knof, the bank's chief executive, described "considerable" risks on the horizon, but singled out interest rates as a "bright spot." For years, bank executives on the continent have bemoaned the European Central Bank's ultra-low monetary policy and charging of fees to park their cash as a drag on their bottom lines. But now, central bank efforts to arrest runaway inflation rates across Europe are proving a change of fortune. Banks from Spain to Britain are only just starting to benefit from the increased gap between what they charge borrowers and what they pay savers. "Higher interest rates will strongly benefit all European banks' net interest margins and overall profitability, but the effect will be gradual and will vary between countries," Moody's said in a recent report. Moody's pointed to banks in Spain, Italy and Portugal as among those that will in particular profit from higher rates because more bank loans there are variable rate, giving lenders a "more pronounced increase in bank revenues." Read more.
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