LONDON — Standard Chartered PLC said Tuesday that it had a "very strong start of the year," with first-quarter income and profit reaching record levels.

The U.K.-based, Asia-focused bank said wholesale banking showed robust results in the quarter ended March 31, while asset quality in its consumer banking business continued to improve compared with the year-ago period.

It said it had no material new bad-debt charges in its corporate loan book in the quarter, and early alert indicators aren't showing any problems in particular industries or countries.

Standard Chartered derives more than 90% of its income from emerging markets in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Although the bank is believed to have one of the highest exposures to Dubai among banks globally, it has said it is well-protected against potential losses.

"Overall, the group has had a very strong start to the year, despite margin headwinds and increasing competitive pressures, with a record quarter in terms of both profit and income," the bank said.

"The group remains in excellent shape, is highly liquid, well-capitalized and has a firm grip of risks and costs."

Contrary to some peers, Standard Chartered doesn't release full earnings for the first and third quarters.

The lender has outperformed its U.K. peers due to its large exposure to Asia, as emerging markets have rebounded at a faster rate following the global financial crisis.

On the consumer banking side, Standard Chartered said it mortgage lending recorded good volume growth in the first quarter, although pressure on margins continued in an ultra-low interest-rate environment.

In its wholesale banking division, Standard Chartered said its core commercial banking businesses of trade finance, cash, payments, and directly related forex-hedging have "performed well."

U.S. banks have posted a jump in those activities in the first quarter, especially fixed-income trading.

Income from wealth management also continued to improve, including in the competitive markets in Hong Kong, Singapore and India, the bank said.

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