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Business

HSBC deplores 'seismic economic shifts'

Global banking giant HSBC has reported a hefty pre-tax loss for the final quarter of last year, leaving both analysts and investors shocked. The lender has been grappling with slowing growth in China.

Analysts were troubled by the news Monday that HSBC swung to an $858 million (773 million euro) pre-tax loss in the last quarter of 2015, compared with a $1.95 billion profit forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

Net profit for the whole of last year dropped by 1.2 percent to $13.52 billion from 2014 levels.

Like many banks operating globally, HSBC has been combating turmoil in financial markets seeing stocks and commodities plunge, while stricter regulations have driven up the lender's costs.

The bank last year announced a radical overhaul of its operations to cut spending, which included shedding some 50,000 jobs worldwide and exiting some unprofitable businesses.

Prepared for Brexit?

CEO Stuart Gulliver (pictured above) said Monday that cost-reduction measures were "already having an impact" and that HSBC was now a leaner business. He admitted, though, that original plans to sell its Turkey operations had failed because of the absence of suitable buyers.

"We have therefore decided to retain and restructure our Turkish business," Gulliver said.

HSBC Group Chairman Douglas Flint warned that China's slower economic growth would create a "bumpier financial environment" in 2016, but added that the lender would continue to focus on the world's second-largest economy as it became more consumer-oriented.

HSBC last week decided to

keep its headquarters in London,

snubbing Hong Kong. Flint had said the bank could shift 1,000 jobs to Paris, if Britain voted to leave the European Union in a June referendum.

hg/bea (Reuters, AFP)

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