Underlying pre-tax profit was "well ahead" of the first quarter of 2008, assisted by substantial fair value gains on the bank's own debt. Contributing gains on HSBC's debt were recorded at a fair value of $6.6 billion, compared to $2.5 billion in the first three months of last year.
Excluding those valuations, profits were lower year-on-year - but still significantly higher compared to Q4 of 2008, the bank noted.
Global Banking and Markets enjoyed record quarterly results thanks to strong performances in foreign exchange and interest rate changes, it added.
The bank said its financial position was strengthened through the completion of its share rights issue in April. The cash call raised $17.8 billion net of expenses, with a 97 per cent shareholder take up overall, rising to 98 per cent in Hong Kong.
HSBC operates in 86 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region.