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HSBC profits bounce back as economic outlook improves

HSBC PLC (LON:HSBA) said a recovering UK economy helped profits rebound by 79% to US$5.8bn in the first quarter of 2021.

All regions improved said the Asia-focused bank, but the UK was the standout with profits of more than US$1bn as bad debts were lower than expected.

HSBC added it wrote back US$400mln of previous impairments across the group due to the improved economic backdrop compared with a charge of US$3bn a year ago.

Lending rose by US$2bn on a reported business and by US$6bn in local currencies, though margins were lower with a reduction of 0.33% from a year ago.

HSBC said mortgage demand in the UK and Hong Kong was strong alongside a recovery in commercial loans.

The good performance was reflected in pay and bonuses with expenses overall up by 9% which included a 3% rise in performance-related pay.

Revenues were the one weak spot and dropped 5% to US$13bn due to the impact of lower interest rates globally.

Going forward, HSBC said that the economic outlook had improved sufficiently for it to lower its bad debt expectations for the year

Lending is also expected to grow by mid-single-digits though both this and impairment forecasts depend on how quickly countries recover from Covid-19.

The bank had already said there will be no quarterly dividends in 2021 and added it will decide on the level of interim payment with the half-year results in August.

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