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Odds narrow on China stimulus as Q1 economy seen weakest in five years

BEIJING (Reuters) - The odds of Beijing intervening to support the sluggish Chinese economy are narrowing following a slew of data that points to the weakest growth for China since the global financial crisis. The economic pain may not be over, either, as some economists forecast that the slowdown could deepen further in the second quarter of the year. It all adds up to increasing pressure on Beijing to provide the economy with a lift if the government wants to meet its full year growth target of around 7.5 percent.

Asian shares rise despite weak China data

Asian markets were mostly higher on Monday despite fresh evidence indicating that China's manufacturing sector is shrinking as Tokyo rebounded from a heavy sell-off in the previous session. The dollar edged up slightly against the yen but investors remain on edge over the Crimea crisis. Tokyo gained 1.77 percent, or 251.07 points, to end at 14,475.30, Sydney rose 0.17 percent, or 8.8 points, to 5,346.9 and Seoul closed 0.55 percent higher, adding 10.61 points to 1,945.55.

Canadian confidence about international trade volumes highest since 2010: HSBC

VANCOUVER - An HSBC study says the number of Canadian firms expecting higher international trade volume is at the highest level since 2010, when the global bank began tracking the trends. Canada's rating on the HSBC Trade Confidence Index has risen to 115, matching the level found in the United States, and above the four-year Canadian average of 111. The index is intended to track expectations for the first half of 2014, based on data compiled in November and December from 23 markets.

Survey shows Chinese manufacturing weakened in February, employers cut staff

BEIJING, China - China's manufacturing weakened in February and employers cut staff at the fastest rate in nearly five years, a survey showed Monday, adding to signs growth in the world's second-largest economy is cooling. HSBC's factory purchasing managers index fell to 48.5 on a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 show activity contracting. That was down from January's 49.5. China's economic growth has slowed steadily as communist leaders try to reduce reliance on trade and investment and encourage growth based on domestic consumption.

'Leaner' HSBC bank hikes profits, bonuses

HSBC on Monday warned over emerging markets volatility after struggling in Latin America last year, but Europe's biggest bank still managed a 15.5-percent jump in annual net profits. London-headquartered HSBC also controversially unveiled measures to avoid new EU rules on bank bonuses, drawing the wrath of union bosses. Profit after tax at the bank climbed to $16.2 billion (11.8 billion euros) in 2013 as it pushed on with a major cost-cutting programme that is set to continue at least for another two years.

HSBC share price slides after profits fail to meet forecasts and company cautions over outlook

LONDON - HSBC PLC saw around 4 billion pounds ($6.8 billion) wiped off its market value Monday after it reported worse than expected profits. Europe's biggest bank by market value said cost-cutting helped its 2013 profits before tax rise 9 per cent to $22.6 billion compared with $20.6 billion in 2012. The consensus in the markets was for something near $25 billion. And the company's earnings per share of $0.84 fell short of the consensus of $0.95.

HSBC bank says annual net profit jumps to US$16.2 bn

Banking giant HSBC announced on Monday a 15.5-percent rise in annual net profit to US$16.2 billion (11.8 billion euros). The company's performance in 2013 compared with profit after tax of $14.03 billion in 2012 when HSBC had been hit by high fines and provisions, the British bank said in an earnings statement. bcp/yad

Survey shows China's manufacturing activity at seven-month low amid economic slowdown

BEIJING, China - China's manufacturing contracted for a second straight month in February as a mainstay of the world's No. 2 economy loses momentum amid government efforts to rein in credit and investment growth. The preliminary version of the HSBC Corp. purchasing managers' index fell to a seven-month low of 48.3 from January's 49.5 on a 100-point scale. Numbers below 50 show activity contracting.

HSBC mulls spin-off of British division

Global banking giant HSBC is mulling a possible flotation of its British division, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the matter. The Asia-focused lender has approached investors in recenty weeks to establish whether they would support the sale of a "sizeable stake" in the British arm, the daily paper added.

HSBC dragged into forex probe, reveals profits jump

A worldwide probe into suspected rigging of foreign exchange deals has reached Europe's biggest bank HSBC, the bank revealed on Monday when it also announced a jump in quarterly profits. The London-based bank said in its earnings statement that British regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, is conducting investigations alongside several other global agencies into a number of firms, including HSBC, "relating to trading on the foreign exchange market". HSBC added that it was "cooperating with the investigations which are at an early stage".
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