HSBC (HBC) reported first-quarter profit that beat expectations on a drop in bad debt charges and cost-cutting efforts. Europe's largest bank reported a pretax profit of $8.43 billion, up from $4.32 billion in the year-earlier period. Analysts, on average, expected profit of $8.1 billion. Bad debt provisions fell by half to $1.2 billion -- the lowest quarterly level since prior to the financial crisis -- and costs in the quarter decreased 10% from the same period a year ago. HSBC has focused on reducing costs by cutting jobs and shedding businesses. The company says it is now saving $4 billion per year on an annualized basis, beating its own target of $3.5 billion. CEO Stuart Gulliver said the bank still expects the eurozone economy to contract this year and the U.K.'s economic growth will continue to be lethargic.
YouTube may be getting ready to announce plans for paid subscriptions to be offered on the Web site. YouTube told the Financial Times, "We have nothing to announce at this time, but we're looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer."