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Global markets getting used to uncertainty, Standard Life CEO says

Global markets are growing more accustomed to uncertainty, Standard Life Plc CEO Keith Skeoch told analysts Aug. 8.

Events such as Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in 2016 had created volatility, but the picture is starting to look more stable, he said after Standard Life reported a year-over-year rise in first-half profit attributable to equity holders.

"The half-life of the uncertainty from those events is fading quite quickly. Markets are reconnecting with fundamentals this year. Last year they were more driven by sentiment," he said, adding that 83% of the company's funds had performed above their benchmark in the first half.

Standard Life made a first-half profit attributable to equity holders of £292 million, up from £226 million in the first half of 2016, on the back of "favorable short-term fluctuations in investment return and economic assumption changes," plus a rise in fee-based revenue and lower tax charges.

Standard Life will complete a merger with Aberdeen Asset Management Plc on Aug. 14.

Speaking on the impact of the merger on inflows, Skeoch said clients were taking a "wait-and-see approach," but said consultants understand the "strategic logic" behind the deal, which is intended to create a "world-class" investment company.

Operating profit before tax was slightly ahead of analyst consensus, up by 6% at £362 million, beating an estimated 4% increase. Assets under administration during the half increased by 1% to £361.9 billion, in line with consensus forecasts.

Barrie Cornes, an insurance analyst at stockbroker Panmure Gordon, said in an Aug. 8 note that the latest set of results were "solid" although "pretty irrelevant" in the face of the coming merger, the benefits of which he remains skeptical of.

The results are "decent" but net outflows of £3.7 billion in the first half, compared with inflows of £900 million during the same period in 2016, may be a concern for investors, wrote Eamonn Flanagan, director at Shore Capital. Standard Life said £3.4 billion of the outflows were from mature books that are in long-term run-off.