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HSBC bank says net profit slides 18% in first quarter

Bank giant HSBC said on Wednesday that its net profit slid 18 percent in the first quarter as lower revenues offset cost-cutting, but added that bad debt charges fell.

LONDON: Bank giant HSBC said on Wednesday that its net profit slid 18 per cent in the first quarter as lower revenues offset cost-cutting, but added that bad debt charges fell.

Profit after tax stood at US$5.069 billion (3.64 billion euros) in the three months to the end of March.

That compared with US$6.211 billion in the first quarter of 2013, the British bank said in an earnings statement.

"In the first quarter we maintained control of costs," HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver said in the statement.

He added that "revenue was lower than the previous year's first quarter, which benefited from a number of specific items" and said that "loan impairment charges fell".

Revenue dropped 8.0 per cent to US$15.71 billion, while pre-tax profit was down 20 percent at US$6.785 billion.

The Asia-focused lender is pushing on with its savings programme, having announced last year plans to cut costs by a further US$2.0 billion to US$3.0 billion between 2014 and 2016.

HSBC shares were trading down 1.13 per cent at 597.3 pence in the wake of the earnings update on London's benchmark FTSE 100 index, which was showing a loss of 0.36 percent at 6,774.15 points by mid-morning.

"With the exception of Commercial Banking, all (HSBC) units have found the going tough as has been the case for many of its global competitors," Richard Hunter, head of equities Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers said following the update.

"More positively, impairments fell, the capital cushion remains robust and, from an investment perspective, the dividend yield of 5.1 per cent is attractive given the current interest rate environment.

"In addition, the bank remains heavily exposed to the perceived longer term potential of the Asian region," Hunter added.

HSBC reported its latest earnings as French bank Societe Generale announced on Wednesday a sharp profit setback for the first quarter, blaming a big fall in the value of its assets in Russia, its second-biggest market for high-street banking.

On Tuesday, Britain's scandal-hit Barclays bank revealed that its first-quarter profit almost halved at its embattled investment banking arm, where the group is set to axe jobs in a major shake-up.

On Thursday, Barclays will present plans to shrink the struggling investment banking division in a bid to boost profitability and repair the group's tarnished reputation.

The bank is still seeking to fix a reputation badly damaged by its role in the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal of 2012. Along with HSBC and other banks, Barclays is being probed also over possible manipulation of foreign exchange trade.

HSBC gave no update regarding the investigation on Wednesday.

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