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HSBC on Tuesday said its net profit fell almost a fifth in the first quarter, with Europe's biggest bank hit by "extreme levels" of markets volatility, while bad loans doubled. Equity and currency markets from Asia to the Americas were sent into meltdown at the start of the year as a growth slowdown in China and plunging oil prices fanned concerns about the world economy. In comments included in the earnings statement, HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver said the group's performance in the January-March period "was resilient in tough market conditions that affected the entire banking sector".
Fighting and government shelling erupted east of Damascus overnight on Tuesday despite a temporary truce announced by the Syrian army in that area, a war monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said five people were killed in heavy rebel shelling of government-held areas of Aleppo, which was not included in a temporary truce announced by the Syrian government last week. An air strike south of Aleppo meanwhile killed at least three people, the Observatory said.