DBS however reported a slower rise in trade loans, which have been a driver of CEO Piyush Gupta's growth strategy.
"Despite a slowdown in trade volumes, the bank's first-quarter earnings reached a record high," said Gupta in a statement, referring to the S$1.27 billion ($952.88 million) net profit including exceptional items.
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DBS said core net profit excluding exceptional items for the January-March period came to S$1.13 billion, against an average forecast of S$1.03 billion from six analysts polled by Reuters.
That compares with a core net profit of S$1.03 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Including a one-time gain from a property disposal, net profit jumped to S$1.27 billion from S$1.23 billion a year earlier.
Net interest income climbed 14 percent to S$1.69 billion.
Bad loan charges rose 20 percent to S$181 million, but fell 14 percent from the fourth quarter.