Banking sector in Europe
In 2013, the development of the banking sector in Europe was shaped by better company figures, a slight economic upturn and the interest rate policies of the central banks in Europe and the USA. The start into the new year was still weak. The Stoxx Europe 600 Banks Index in EUR lost 4 percent by mid-2013. Within the course of the year the European Central Bank (ECB) twice lowered its key interest rates to the historic low of 0.25 percent. The US Central Bank (Fed) boosted the financial markets by indefinitely delaying tapering. It was not until the end of 2013 that positive economic data prompted the Fed to gradually reduce tapering. At the same time, the Fed announced that it would keep the key interest rates at zero for the foreseeable future. From mid-2013, banking shares were on the increase as a result of surprisingly good interim financial reports. As a consequence, the Stoxx Europe 600 Banks Index rapidly recovered and by the end of the year had increased by 22.4 percent from its low on 2 June 2013.
Banking sector in Liechtenstein and Switzerland
Although the main topic in 2013 in Liechtenstein and Switzerland was the discussion of US taxation issues, both the Liechtenstein and the Swiss banking sectors clearly outperformed the European one. The positive atmosphere on the financial markets helped to increase commission income. However, profitability continued to be depressed by near zero interest rates. In particular, the asset management banks in Switzerland and Liechtenstein profited from the overall very positive 2013 trading year. Most retail banks, however, performed below average. The Swiss Performance Index (SPI) reported a return of 24.6 percent in 2013.