Qatar banking system stable - Moody's

Lending growth of between 20-25 percent expected says rating agency

Moody's Investors Service said the outlook for Qatar's banking system remains stable, a reflection of the country's economic environment, including a low level of nonperforming loans at well capitalised banks, Moody's Investors Service said.

The "government's extensive infrastructure investment programme will boost banks' business opportunities over the 12- to 18-month outlook period and lead to lending growth of between 20 percent-25 percent," the rating agency said in an e-mailed statement.

Qatari banks are backed by substantial government spending with their profitability remaining broadly stable, with the return-on-average-assets ratio as high as 2.4 percent.

Geopolitical tensions could threaten Qatar's export capacity and over the longer term, the impact of adverse changes in oil and gas prices, the agency said. Hydrocarbons account for 60 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The country is the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Qatar's government is spending about $58bn on its infrastructure over the coming year and 2014. The country's economy grew 6.2 percent last year and is forecast to expand by more than 4 percent in 2013.

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