Highlights of Bank Negara's 1H 2020 financial stability review

KUALA LUMPUR: Following are the highlights of Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) Financial Stability Review -- First Half 2020 released on Wednesday, which provides an assessment on the current and potential risks to financial stability and resilience of the Malaysian financial system.

* As at end-June 2020, the total capital ratio of the banking system stood at 18.3 per cent with aggregate excess capital buffers of RM122 billion, while the liquidity coverage ratio was 149.2 per cent

* The significant relief measures introduced have kept business loan impairment ratios low and stable at 2.5 per cent for overall non-financial corporates

* Households continue to maintain comfortable levels of financial assets and liquid financial assets at 2.2 times and 1.4 times of debt, respectively, as relief measures introduced by the government and banks released extra cash to households

* The household debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio rose above its previous peak of 86.9 per cent in 2015 to 87.5 per cent as of June 2020 due mainly to the sharp contraction in nominal GDP in the second quarter

* Financial market volatility is expected to remain elevated in the near term, with the resumption in the rise of COVID-19 infections in several countries, which could create cautious sentiment among investors on weaker-than-expected corporate earnings and an escalation of trade tensions

* Malaysia's strong financial institution, system and preparedness can safeguard its economy from falling into a crisis

* BNM requires banks to suspend the repricing of loans/financing due to missed payments between Oct 1 and Dec 31,2020

* The share of non-financial corporates at risk is expected to rise further by end-2020 as more businesses may struggle to adapt to new operating conditions, but relief measures introduced by the government and banks are helping many businesses tide over temporary financial difficulties

* Business conditions are expected to improve in the second half of the year, in line with the gradual improvement in economic activity

* The extension of targeted financial relief measures will continue to help support businesses alongside corporate and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) guarantee schemes as the recovery takes a stronger hold

* Housing market activity fell in the first half (H1) of 2020, while non-residential properties experienced above-average vacancy rates and depressed rental yields

* Financial institutions have taken steps to further enhance existing business continuity plans to specifically incorporate measures to respond to a pandemic event

* The number of businesses receiving repayment from banks since July has increased seven-fold, and in anticipation of higher credit losses, banks have been shoring up their buffers, adding RM2.7 billion to provisions in H1 2020

* Banks' liquidity position remained healthy in H1 despite the deferment of close to 90 per cent of retail loan repayments under the automatic moratorium

* Banks are expecting some recovery in household loan growth in the second half of 2020 amid low borrowing costs and improving labour market condition

* Banks disbursed RM120 billion in lending and financing in H1 2020. Since July, the number of businesses receiving repayment assistance from banks has increased seven-fold

* In H1 2020, the banking system as a whole disbursed a total of RM120 billion in lending and financing to the SMEs

* Credit costs to banks could rise to RM29 billion (1.4 per cent of total loans) over 2020 and 2021

* Life insurers are expected to remain solvent should interest rates decline further, with aggregate industry capital adequacy ratio remaining comfortably above the regulatory minimum

* Some households are facing increased financial stress, despite a cautious stance that is reflected in the weaker loan growth amid movement restrictions and lower discretionary purchases

* Most households would be able to withstand an extreme equity market shock equivalent to that experienced during the Asian Financial Crisis as investments were funded by excess cash reserves and not borrowings

* Housing market activity fell in H1 2020, while non-residential properties experienced above-average vacancy rates and depressed rental yields

* The labour market saw improvement in the third quarter supported by unprecedented measures in retaining jobs and resumption of rehiring amid a recovery in economy. - Bernama

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