HSBC sees profits, but still feels pain

An HSBC bank branch


Bob Moon: Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, is reporting losses totaling around $5 billion -- its latest write-down of bad debts on U.S. home loans and deterioration in the value of risky assets. That's actually an improvement, but as Marketplace's Steven Beard reports, the damage is still being felt.

Stephen Beard: HSBC has set aside another $3.2 billion to cover potential losses in the U.S. in the first quarter. Overall, the bank's profits are higher. Business in Asia remains buoyant. But HSBC must now deeply regret its purchase of Household International in the U.S. The subprime specialist has so far cost HSBC around $18 billion in bad loans. And those American losses seem certain to continue, says analyst Ewen Sterling.

Ewen Sterling: There's no sign that the U.S. housing situation has stabilized. Prices are still falling quite rapidly. The housing transactions that are going through are continuing to dwindle.

But one of the biggest British casualties of the U.S. subprime mess could be the U.K. Treasury. It's just emerged that banking write-downs here in recent weeks have cut the amount of tax payable by $5 billion, a loss of revenue the government can ill afford.

In London, this is Stephen Beard.


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