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First quarter profits fall 19 per cent at London-based HSBC as retail banking slows

A man walks out from an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, May 7, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Vincent Yu

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A man walks out from an HSBC branch office in Hong Kong, May 7, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Vincent Yu

LONDON - London-based bank HSBC has suffered a 19 per cent fall in first-quarter net profit that it blamed in part on declines in the retail banking and wealth management businesses.

For the three months that ended March 31, HSBC reported Wednesday a net profit of $5.2 billion, down from $6.4 billion a year earlier. Operating expenses dropped slightly compared with the first quarter last year.

HSBC Holdings PLC said its costs were under control but revenue dropped because of a weaker result in its retail banking and wealth management units.

Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said revenues in those sectors were "impacted by changes in incentive plans and product pricing."

Shares in the bank were down 1.1 per cent in morning trading in London.

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