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HSBC's first-half profit rises 5 pct, beating estimates

HONG KONG/LONDON, July 31 (Reuters) - HSBC Holdings PLC on Monday said profit rose 5 percent in the first half of the year, as Europe's biggest bank reduced operational costs and increased income in its core markets of Britain and Hong Kong.

Pretax profit reached $10.2 billion in the six months through June, from $9.7 billion in the same period a year earlier, HSBC said in a statement. The result compared with the $9.5 billion average estimate of analysts polled by the bank.

HSBC also announced an up to $2 billion share buyback, its third in the past year as it uses excess capital to offset the dilutive effect of shares paid out as dividends. It completed a previously announced $1 billion buyback in April. (Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee and Lawrence White; Editing by Christopher Cushing)