HSBC has seen it’s share price rocket more than 50% since it hit a 25-year low in September, the UK’s biggest bank has been under increasing regulatory and economic pressure in its key markets, including Europe and Asia, but since September its fortunes have changed with its shares rising by more than 50% in Hong Kong and 48% in London, where it is listed.
Headquartered in London, more than half of HSBC’s profits come from Asia, although this quarter has been a strong one for the bank’s dual-listed share price, it is still down about one-third since the start of the year. In October, HSBC recorded better-than-expected third quarter results on cost savings, despite profits being down 46%, its operations in Asia “continued to perform resiliently” with pre-tax profits of $3.2bn (£2.4bn). Last month, HSBC surged as much as 8% on optimism that it may soon resume paying dividends. “Now is the time for financials to shine and it seems HSBC is at the top of many lists since they have done enough to restart their dividend,” says Edward Moya at trading firm Oanda.
Investors have also been more positive on financial stocks in general with hopes that a Covid-19 vaccine will boost the global economy. “The top banks will all benefit from a strong global economic recovery that will boost jobs, credit card spending, and drive business lending,” Mr Moya added. HSBC’s fortunes have further improved on expectations that President-elect Joe Biden will take a softer stance on China following rising tensions and a US trade war that began in 2018. Incumbent Donald Trump has been keeping the pressure on China, and on Wednesday the Senate passed a bill that places restrictions on Chinese firms listing in the US. HSBC is currently pushing ahead with major restructuring of its global banking operations.
Chief executive Noel Quinn said the bank would “accelerate” an earlier restructuring plan, which includes the axing of 35,000 jobs, it is also weighing up a complete exit from retail banking in the US to focus on its more profitable businesses in Asia, according to sources quoted by the Financial Times. Mr Quinn has pledged to go “further and faster on our cost and risk-weighted asset reduction programmes”, after setting aside $7.7bn for potential loan losses during the pandemic. In September, HSBC’s share price fell to its lowest level since 1995 amid allegations of money laundering. In 2013 and 2014 the bank allowed fraudsters to transfer millions of dollars around the world even after it had learned of their scam, leaked secret files show. HSBC says it has always met its legal duties on reporting such activity. The bank also became embroiled in a political battle over it’s support of China’s national security law in Hong Kong, leading it to be lambasted by both the US and UK.