Updated from 5:11 a.m. EDT

HSBC

(HBC)

said underlying pretax profit in the first quarter was well ahead of results a year earlier assisted by gains in the value of its own debt of about $6.6 billion compared with $2.5 billion it recorded last year.

Excluding the gains, pretax profit from a year earlier fell but was above its latest fourth-quarter results, the bank said in a statement Monday.

HSBC said it has made a "resilient" start to 2009 as revenue recovered strongly from the fourth quarter with "record results in global banking and markets which benefited from improved market share and margins in a number of key areas."

HSBC's CEO Michael Geoghegan said the company's operating performance in the first quarter was encouraging, boosted by record results from its global banking and markets divisions.

And he said the recent rights issue which raised $17.8 billion means it is well-positioned to "ride out the economic uncertainty ahead, and to take advantage of opportunities to grow." Unlike other British-based banks, HSBC didn't take any government cash to shore up its capital position, opting instead to raise money itself.

HSBC didn't give an exact figure for the total it has set aside to cover bad debts, though it did say it was up on the same period last year.

Europe's largest bank said loan impairment charges and other credit risk provisions were higher than a year earlier but lower than in the fourth quarter of 2008. Charges in the U.S. also were slightly lower than expected.

HSBC is in the process of exiting most of its U.S. consumer lending business.

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