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June, 2010

The Indian banking system is financially stable and resilient to the shocks that may arise due to higher non-performing assets (NPAs) and the global economic crisis, according to a stress test done by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Significantly, the RBI has the tenth largest gold reserves in the world after spending US$ 6.7 billion towards the purchase of 200 metric tonnes of gold from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November 2009. The purchase has increased the country's share of gold holdings in its foreign exchange reserves from approximately 4 per cent to about 6 per cent.

In the annual international ranking conducted by UK-based Brand Finance Plc, 20 Indian banks have been included in the Brand Finance® Global Banking 500. In fact, the State Bank of India (SBI) has become the first Indian bank to be ranked among the Top 50 banks in the world, capturing the 36th rank, as per the Brand Finance study. The brand value of SBI increased from US$ 1.5 billion in 2009 to US$ 4.6 billion in 2010. ICICI Bank also made it to the Top 100 list with a brand value of US$ 2.2 billion. The total brand value of the 20 Indian banks featured in the list stood at US$ 13 billion.

Meanwhile, loan disbursement from scheduled commercial banks which included regional rural banks as well posted a growth of 16.04 per cent by March 12, 2010, on a year-on-year basis, as per the latest data released by RBI. The RBI had earlier predicted that the credit growth during 2009-10 would be around 16 per cent.

Following the financial crisis, new deposits have gravitated towards public sector banks. According to RBI's 'Quarterly Statistics on Deposits and Credit of Scheduled Commercial Banks: September 2009', nationalised banks, as a group, accounted for 50.5 per cent of the aggregate deposits, while State Bank of India (SBI) and its associates accounted for 23.8 per cent. The share of other scheduled commercial banks, foreign banks and regional rural banks in aggregate deposits were 17.8 per cent, 5.6 per cent and 3.0 per cent, respectively.

With respect to gross bank credit also, nationalised banks hold the highest share of 50.5 per cent in the total bank credit, with SBI and its associates at 23.7 per cent and other scheduled commercial banks at 17.8 per cent. Foreign banks and regional rural banks had a share of 5.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively in the total bank credit.

The report also found that scheduled commercial banks served 34,709 banked centres. Of these centres, 28,095 were single office centres and 64 centres had 100 or more bank offices.

The confidence of non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the Indian economy is reviving again. NRI fund inflows increased since April 2009 and touched US$ 47.8 billion on March 2010, as per the RBI's June 2010 bulletin. Most of this has come through Foreign Currency Non-resident (FCNR) accounts and Non-resident External Rupee Accounts.

Foreign exchange reserves were up by US$ 1.69 billion to US$ 272.783 billion, for the week ending June 11, on account of revaluation gains. June 21, 2010.

Major Developments

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has provided qualified full banking (QFB) privileges to ICICI Bank for its branch operations in Singapore. Currently, only SBI had QFB privileges in country.

The Indian operations of Standard Chartered reported a profit of above US$ 1 billion for the first time. The bank posted a profit before tax (PAT) of US$ 1.06 billion in the calendar year 2009, as compared to US$ 891 million in 2008.

Punjab National Bank (PNB) plans to expand its international operations by foraying into Indonesia and South Africa. The bank is also planning to increase its share in the international business operations to 7 per cent in the next three years.

The State Bank of India (SBI) has posted a net profit of US$ 1.56 billion for the nine months ended December 2009, up 14.43 per cent from US$ 175.4 million posted in the nine months ended December 2008.