HSBC forecasts brighter outlook as profits surge

Europe's biggest bank by assets reported income of $5.8bn (£4.2bn) for the January-to-March period, up from $3.2bn a year earlier.

More than half of its profits came from Asia, the region where the bank does much of its business.

The improved outlook led HSBC to release some of the cash it had set aside for bad loans.

Last year, HSBC had set aside $3bn to cover bad debts, but it has now released $400m of that following "an improvement in the economic outlook, notably in the UK".

Solid growth in its mortgage business in the UK and Hong Kong also helped to boost profits.

The bank says it is on track with its restructuring plan, including cutting 35,000 jobs and focusing on earning more client fees in Asia.

The jump in profits marks a turnaround for HSBC, which reported a 34% drop in profits for 2020, partly due to the impact from the coronavirus pandemic.

Noel Quinn, HSBC's group chief executive, said the bank had made a "good start to the year".

He said: "Global banking and markets had a good quarter, and we saw solid business growth in strategic areas, including Asia Wealth and trade finance, and mortgages in Hong Kong and the UK.

"We also strengthened our lending pipelines in our retail and wholesale businesses."

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