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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

HSBC Bank Canada reports pre-tax profit of $233 million in first quarter

VANCOUVER - HSBC Bank Canada says it earned a pre-tax profit of $233 million in the first quarter, down 13.4 per cent from the $269 million in the same quarter a year ago,

Basic earnings per common share were 32 cents in the three-month period, down a penny from last year.

The bank blames lower net interest income from declining loan balances, lower net trading income from foreign exchange and rates products, and lower gains less losses from financial investments for the drop.

Profit attributable to common shareholders during the quarter was $160 million, down 6.4 per cent from the $171 million in profit recorded in the same period in 2013.

The Vancouver-based bank says return on average common equity was 15 per cent in the quarter endedMarch 31, compared with 16.3 per cent in the same period in 2013.HSBC says it had $84.3 billion in total assets as of March 31, down slightly from $84.4 billion at the same time last year.

"While broadly unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2013, our profit before tax in the first quarter of 2014 is solid at $233 million," said president and CEO Paulo Maia.

"Other positive signs of momentum include increased commercial financing activity and strong growth in wealth management."

Net interest income for the first quarter was $307 million, a decrease of $29 million due to declining loan balances of the run-off consumer finance portfolio as well as a decline in personal lending balances.

Net fee income in the quarter was off $9 million to $155 million and the bank's net trading income was down $18 million at $39 million.

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