Bank hails £9bn profits

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The Independent Online

Banking giant HSBC today unveiled annual profits of 17.61 billion US dollars (£9.18 billion) - the biggest figure recorded by a UK-based bank.

The group, which generates around one-fifth of its earnings from the UK, said it had been "another good year" after the profits figure rose 37 per cent on 2003.

Today's results come a week after Royal Bank of Scotland unveiled profits of £8.1 billion and will be followed later this week by Halifax to Bank of Scotland group HBOS and Lloyds TSB. The biggest banks in the sector are expected to have accumulated profits of around £30 billion in 2004.

Last week, the industry came under fire from former London Stock Exchange chairman Don Cruickshank, who said he believed nothing had been done to boost competition among banks since he carried out a review five years ago.

HSBC sounded an upbeat note on prospects and said some of the concerns which made for an uncertain economic outlook in 2004 had been "allayed to a degree".

Chairman Sir John Bond said of today's figures: "The solid performance of the first six months continued and we were able to build on the record results of 2003."