HSBC third-quarter profit tumbles 35per cent as bad loan provisions rise

HONG KONG/LONDON: HSBC Holdings PLC posted a 35per cent drop in quarterly profit, better than expected, as higher loan loss provisions on the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic were cushioned by the reining in of expenses.

Reported pretax profit for Europe’s biggest bank by assets came in at US$3.1 billion for the quarter ended Sept. 30, down from US$4.8 billion in the same period a year earlier.

The profit was higher than the US$2.07 billion average of analysts’ estimates compiled by the bank.

While economic conditions improved in some markets in the third quarter as lockdowns were lifted and forbearance measures helped businesses and consumers, global banks’ provisions have remained high as they assess the impact of the pandemic.

Asia-focused HSBC said it expected losses from bad loans to be at the lower end of the US$8 billion to US$ 13 billion range it set out earlier this year.

Faced with fewer options to bolster revenue growth, HSBC has been looking to reduce costs globally and in June resumed plans to cut around 35,000 jobs it had put on ice after the coronavirus outbreak.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong and Lawrence White in London; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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