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Japan banks see worst returns in Q1; China's big 4 remain largest by market cap

China's four biggest banks maintained their hold on the spots atop the 20 largest Asia-Pacific banks by market capitalization, while Japan's megabanks took a slight stumble on the list. Regional banks in Japan were also among some of the worst performing bank stocks in the first quarter of 2017.

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Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. once again was largest in the region with a market capitalization of US$246.08 billion, a gain of 10.5% from the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016. All four Chinese banks saw increases in their market value in the first quarter. China Construction Bank Corp. took the No. 2 spot with a 4.9% quarterly rise in market capitalization to US$201.61 billion.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia took fifth place in the rankings and remained Australia's biggest bank by market capitalization. Peer Westpac Banking Corp. edged out Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. to take sixth place. The other two Japanese megabanks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Mizuho Financial Group Inc., also saw declines in their market capitalization.

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Meanwhile, Japan's regional banks numbered 11 among the 15 Asia-Pacific bank stocks with the worst total returns, though Indonesia's PT Bank Pembangunan Daerah Banten Tbk had the worst returns in the first quarter, costing investors 40.41%. Japan-based Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank Ltd. was in second place, with total returns of negative 26.50%.

On the other end of the spectrum, small-cap banks still provided the best returns in the first quarter. PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia Agroniaga Tbk remained in the No. 1 spot from the previous quarter, with a total return of 113.73%. PT Bank China Construction Bank Indonesia Tbk came in second with a total return of 98.65%.

The SNL Japan Bank Index was the worst performer among select bank indexes in the region, generating total returns of negative 4.75% for the quarter, while the SNL South Asia Bank Index was the best performer, up 24.03%.

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