HSBC has suffered a 65% drop in pre-tax profit in the first half of the year as Europe's largest bank was struck by a dive in interest rates and coronavirus disruption.

The bank reported profits of 4.3 billion US dollars (£3.2 billion) in the half year to June 30, down from 12.4 billion dollars (£9.5 billion) in the same period in 2019.

The bank has endured a torrid year on the markets with the London listed shares falling more than 40% from 595p to 342p as of June 30.

Group chief executive Noel Quinn said: "Our first half performance was impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, falling interest rates, increased geopolitical risk and heightened levels of market volatility."

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Mr Quinn put the brakes on a wide-ranging redundancy programme as the coronavirus took hold.

However, plans to cut around 35,000 jobs worldwide will be accelerated.

The company will also look at other measures to take "in light of the new economic environment to make HSBC a stronger and more sustainable business", Mr Quinn said in the half year results.

HSBC, along with other banks, complied with a Bank of England request to shelve dividends for shareholders on April 1, with the bank saying it would not make payouts or have share buy-backs until the end of 2020.

In its update HSBC said its future dividend policy would be reviewed and added: "Lower global interest rates and reduced customer activity have put increasing pressure on revenue, and are expected to continue to do so."

The company set aside provisions for credit losses of 3.8 billion dollars (£2.9 billion) in the quarter ending June 30, up from 555 million dollars (£420 million) in the same period last year.

Continuing tension between the US and China, and discussions over the shape of Brexit will continue to have an impact on performance, according to the report.

It said: "Our performance in the second half of the year will continue to be influenced by the path and economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

"Geopolitical uncertainty could also weigh heavily on our clients, particularly those impacted by heightened US-China and UK-China tensions, and the future of UK-EU trade relations."

The bank, although headquartered in the UK, makes most of its profit in Asia and Mr Quinn acknowledged the geopolitical risk in the region.

He said: "Current tensions between China and the US inevitably create challenging situations for an organisation with HSBC's footprint.

"We will face any political challenges that arise with a focus on the long-term needs of our customers and the best interests of our investors."

Thousands of restaurants in Scotland have signed up to the UK Government scheme providing a 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak's "Eat out to help out" scheme, designed to encourage a return to the hospitality industry, begins on Monday.

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The initiative will provide up to £10 off meals to diners eating out every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during August at participating businesses.

At least 3,766 outlets in Scotland have signed up, though this figure does not include chains which have more than 26 premises.

Across the UK more than 72,000 individual restaurants, cafes and pubs are taking part.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: "Eat out to help out is a fantastic scheme which will help Scotland's hospitality businesses get back on their feet.
"I am very pleased that 3,766 Scottish restaurants, bars and cafes have signed up.
"This is a great opportunity for people in Scotland to get together with friends and family in a safe environment and get up to 50% off their bill.

"The UK Government is doing all it can to drive our economic recovery, and we want to see all sectors of our economy open again where it is safe to do so."

The UK's manufacturing sector grew for the second month in a row in July after recovering from record lows earlier in the year.

The closely-followed IHS Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) recorded a score of 53.3 in July, from 50.1 in June.

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Anything above 50 is considered an expansion in the sector.

Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said: "The UK manufacturing sector started the third quarter on a much firmer footing, with output growth hitting a near three-year high and new orders rising for the first time in five months.

"The recovery strengthened as a loosening of lockdown restrictions allowed manufacturers to restart or raise production.

"July also saw signs of furloughed employees returning to work and customers resuming spending. Business optimism also rose to its highest for over two years as companies grew more hopeful that the future has brightened.

"Despite the solid start to the recovery, the road left to travel remains long and precarious. An extended period of growth is still needed to fully recoup the ground lost in recent months.

"This is also the case for the labour market, where job losses are continuing despite businesses reopening. There is a significant risk of further redundancies and of furloughed workers not returning unless demand and confidence stage more substantial and long- lasting rebounds in the months ahead."

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