Nedbank Group, which said on Tuesday interim headline earnings edged 2.6% up to R6.9bn, has moderated its guidance for full-year earnings amid SA’s economic slowdown.

Last week, Fitch Ratings revised the long-term outlooks of Nedbank and its peers to negative from stable, after doing the same for SA.

“In the context of slower-than-expected SA GDP growth, we have slightly revised our guidance for growth in diluted headline earnings per share for 2019 to around nominal GDP growth,” Nedbank Group CEO Mike Brown said.

The financial services group, which grew diluted headline earnings per share by 3.7% in the first half, previously expected growth of “greater than or equal to nominal GDP growth”.

Nedbank expects SA’s GDP to grow at just 0.5% in 2019, with nominal GDP growth — a measure that includes inflation — of about 4.9%.

“Significantly more urgency is required with the implementation of structural reforms to stem the economic and fiscal deterioration currently being experienced in the SA economy,” Brown said.

“If we are unable to do this, all the hard work done on maintaining our last investment grade rating from Moody’s will be in vain, at great cost to all South Africans as a result of higher inflation and higher interest rates, as well as lower growth and lower levels of employment than would otherwise have been the case.”

Brown said Nedbank’s performance in the six months to end-June “was resilient”, with the group raising its interim dividend by 3.6% to 720c a share.

Revenue was 5.5% up at R27.7bn, while the cost-to-income ratio improved to 55.4% from 55.8% a year before.

“SA is at a critical economic juncture, one that will require coherent economic policy,difficult decisions and urgent action by all South Africans,” Brown said.