HSBC Group plc (HSBC) posted stronger-than-expected first half earnings Monday and launched an additional $2 billion share buyback program as Europe's biggest bank continues to see firmer growth in Asian markets.

HSBC said pre-tax profit for the first six months of the year came in at $10.2 billion, firmly ahead of the $9.5 billion consensus provided by the bank and up 5.15% from the same period last year. Revenue for the first half was marked at $26.2 billion, the bank said, down 11% from last year " primarily due to currency translation differences, the absence of fair value movements on our own debt and revenue from the operations in Brazil that we sold", HSBC said. 

The bank also said it would add a further $2 billion to its existing share buyback program, taking it to $5.5 billion since the second half of 2016.

"We have had an excellent first half of 2017, reflecting the changes we have made since our Investor Update in 2015 and the strength of our competitive position," said CEO Stuart Gulliver. "Our three main global businesses performed well, increasing profit before tax and growing market share in many of the products that are central to our strategy. We remain on track to complete the majority of our strategic actions by the end of the year."

Profits in Asia, its most lucrative market, rose 7% to $7.6 billion over the first half of the year, the bank said, while adjusted profits from its global banking and markets division rose 28.4% to $3.4 billion, nearly matching the bottom line from its giant commercial banking division.   

HSBC shares were marked 2.81% higher in the 90 minutes of trading in London and changing hands at a near 10-year high of 764.6 pence each, extending their year-to-date gain past 16.6%. 

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