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Macquarie posts record third quarter, flags rate hike benefits By


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Australia’s biggest investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd adorns the main entrance to their Sydney office headquarters in Australia, October 28, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

By Harish Sridharan and Byron Kaye

(Reuters) -Australia’s Macquarie Group (OTC:) Ltd said it booked record quarterly net profit thanks to strong commodity markets and “exceptional” asset sales in infrastructure and other sectors, adding it should continue to benefit as interest rates rise.

Profit contribution from commodities trading and investment banking rose “substantially” in the third quarter, helped by volatile gas and energy markets, Macquarie said.

Investment banking fees were “significantly up” after the bank handled 126 transactions around the world worth a combined A$105 billion ($75 billion), with activity in the second half also expected to be high.

Macquarie, also the world’s top infrastructure investor, does not disclose profit numbers in quarterly updates.

But the news of the record quarter lifted its shares nearly 5%, valuing the financial giant at around A$77 billion and contributing to a 1% gain for the broader market.

Macquarie “was well placed to exploit emerging volatility in energy markets, particularly gas (but) has beat our own expectations,” Citi analysts wrote in a client note, adding that they were raising their forecast for its annual profit.

Macquarie CEO Shemara Wikramanayake said the company should benefit as interest rates rise around the world – a prospect that economists expect as a result of surging inflation.

“In the early stages of rates increasing, especially if it’s driven by increasing growth, it should be positive for the business,” she said on a call with analysts.

Macquarie, which competes with Australian retail banks by selling deposit accounts and mortgages, said home loans grew 8% in the December quarter.

“We have to see what the competitive dynamic does in terms of those rate increases and how those get passed to customers (but) generally it should be supportive,” Wikramanayake said.

Australian retail banks hope hikes in interest rates from record lows, expected as soon as this year, will enable them to widen the profit margins that they collect on mortgages.

Macquarie Asset Management’s assets under management grew 2% to $750 billion from the previous quarter.

($1 = 1.4035 Australian dollars)

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