We have had a good start to the year, with growth in reported and underlying profit before tax. These results demonstrate our progress in implementing the strategy we set out in May 2011.
While continuing uncertainty in the global economy has created a relatively muted environment for revenue growth, we have increased revenues in key areas including residential mortgages and Commercial Banking in both our home markets of Hong Kong and the UK, and in our Financing and Equity Capital Markets business.
We have achieved further progress on the journey we started in 2011 to make HSBC easier to manage
Loan impairment charges were lower in every region, notably in North America. Our continued focus on cost management contributed to an improvement in our underlying cost efficiency ratio.
We have achieved further progress on the journey we started in 2011 to make HSBC easier to manage and control. The implementation of global standards in areas such as compliance will help ensure that we meet the commitments we made to the US and UK authorities as part of the settlement agreements reached at the end of last year.
Our performance in April continued the trend we saw in the first quarter. Although broad macroeconomic challenges persist, we expect the mainland Chinese economy to accelerate after a slower than expected start to the year. We forecast that the US will continue to outperform its peers, though the pace of growth will be slow compared with past experience. We expect that the eurozone will contract, that emerging markets will grow at around 5 per cent, and that global growth will be around 2 per cent in 2013.
We have strengthened our capital position and remain one of the best capitalised banks in the world, allowing us both to invest in organic growth and grow dividends. Our strategic direction remains unchanged. Later this month we will update investors on the next phase of its implementation.